Raqqa (ANF) – Jac Holmes, 24 from Bournemouth, who has been fighting in the ranks of the YPG since 2015, has lost his life while clearing landmines in Raqqa, the BBC reported.
Accordingly, Kurdish representatives in the UK said they had been told by YPG officials the former IT worker from Bournemouth was killed while he was clearing an area to make it safe for civilians.
His mother, Angie Blannin, said the 24-year-old had been a “hero in my eyes”.
She told the BBC: “He loved what he was doing there, he loved being a soldier. He had the courage of his convictions.
“He was just a boy when he left the UK, a little bit lost. He told me he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. But by going out there, he found something that he was good at and that he loved.”
Ms Blannin said she had not seen Jac for over a year, but that they regularly kept in touch online and had been making plans for him coming home.
“He stuck by his convictions because he wanted to be there and he wanted to see the end of Raqqa and to see the end of the caliphate. That was a moment in history, and he wanted to be part of it.”
“We thought with any luck he’d be home for Christmas. It had been so tough since he had been away but I was always 100% behind him.”
“After all this, he had said he might go into politics, or perhaps into close protection security. He’d seen so much for a boy of his age.”
Ozkan Ozdil, who also fought with Mr Holmes in Syria, told the BBC his friend had become well-known and respected among Kurdish fighting units.
He said: “Everybody knew Jac. By his third tour out there his Kurdish was fluent. We had a bit of a laugh that he was my Kurdish translator.
“He spoke so fondly about Rojava. He was the reason that made me want to go.”
As a former IT worker, Mr Holmes had no prior military training, but he became one of the longest-serving foreign volunteers in the conflict.
Since 2015, he had travelled to fight with the Kurds three times, and spent more than a year there on his third trip.
“He loved being out there, he loved the people around him. He had a purpose and he was happy,” said Mr Ozdil.
Mr Holmes fought in operations to push ISIS out of key towns and villages including Tel Hamis, Manbij, Tabqa and Raqqa.
During the battle for the IS stronghold of Raqqa, he became part of a four-man sniper unit made up of international fighters who, like him, had joined the conflict voluntarily.
In the “223 YPG Sniper Unit” Mr Holmes fought alongside three others from Spain, the US and Germany.