A British man has been killed alongside two Americans fighting against Islamic State in Syria.
Luke Rutter, 22, from Birkenhead, was fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) when he died last Wednesday evening during an ambush in a suburb of the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, his Kurdish commanders said.
The YPG announced his death in a statement that described him as a “martyr” who “participated actively in the collective life, which is promoted within the YPG”.
It added: “At the end of training in the academy, when asked the usual question addressed to every volunteer: ‘Are you ready to fight?’ He firmly responded ‘Yes’ and said he wanted to fight the fascist organisation of IS.”
It is believed Robert Grodt, an Occupy Wall Street activist from Santa Cruz, California, also died in the attack. A relative, Elizabeth Clarke, said on Facebook that Grodt had “passed away unexpectedly in Syria”.
“He was there helping oppressed people, his lifelong passion,” she wrote. “I will always remember Rob for his commitment to his ideals. He and Kaylee taught me how to chain myself to another person when protesting during their Occupy Wall Street days and I shall always remember the correct Greek pronunciation of my favourite sandwich, the gyro.
“Most importantly, I will be forever grateful that he was there for Kaylee when she most needed someone and that he was a wonderful father to Tegan. What a gift to leave the world! Thanks for being a part of our family.”
Grodt made headlines during the Occupy movement in September 2012 after he was filmed coming to the aid of Kaylee Dedrick, a fellow campaigner who was pepper sprayed by police in a video that subsequently went viral. According to reports at the time, the pair become close after the incident and later had a child together. Speaking at the time, Grodt reportedly said: “Nothing strengthens a relationship like a chemical agent.”
The YPG said another American, Nicholas Warden, had been hurt in the attack and later died from his injuries. Warden, 29, was from Buffalo, New York, and said in a video released after his death that he had travelled to Syria after Isis-inspired terror attacks in Orlando, San Bernadino, Nice and Paris.
It is understood that Rutter, who had no military experience, secretly travelled to Syria last April, telling his family he had joined the French Foreign Legion.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Matt Blake