An American grandfather has joined the Kurds in the fight against ISIS in Syria after abandoning his idyllic life as a surf instructor in Costa Rica, to wield an AK-47 against the jihadists.
In an interview with MailOnline, Dean Parker, who has no previous military experience, said he ‘heard God’s call’ to take up arms after watching a heartbreaking TV report about the plight of the Yazidi people trapped on Mount Sinjar by Islamic State fighters.
After flying out to Syria, the West Palm Beach, Florida, native has joined the Lions of Rojava – a famous squad of foreign fighters which is part of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, known as the YPG.
The 49-year-old has swapped his job as a surf instructor in stunning Zancudo, Costa Rica, for frontline training in the war against terror group ISIS.
The US volunteer told MailOnline: ‘When ISIS was attacking the Yazidis and they had fled to the mountain, an Iraqi helicopter with a western journalist went to drop water.
‘Women and children rushed in and started piling into the chopper.
‘The cameraman filmed this one mother holding her 10 or 11-year-old son. He was dressed for school it seemed.
‘She was crying, holding him. He was looking at the camera and that look of sheer terror in his eyes overwhelmed me with emotions I have never felt before.
‘I actually became physically ill and was crying uncontrollably. This has never happened to me before, and that was it.
‘I knew I had to come, and never in the month before coming here did I have any doubt.
For Parker it was a life-changing moment and in an instant he made the decision to leave behind his family, friends and even his beloved German shepherd dog, Gretchen, to go and fight.
After travelling via Istanbul he arrived in the Kurdistan region of Iraq on October 28, but he did not inform those close to him until five days later, when he posted a statement on his Facebook page on November 2.
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