Not everyone in the West that’s running off to fight in Syria and Iraq is joining Islamist radicals. Fed up with scenes of graphic violence, displacement of civilian noncombatants and murderous jihadist rhetoric, some Europeans and North Americans are traveling to Syria and Iraq to help the side they view as the good guys (and gals): the Kurds.
Six Canadian Forces vets are the latest group of outsiders joining Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in their battle against ISIS militants in northeastern Iraq. The veterans, who plan to head to Iraq within a month, say Canada has provided an insufficient military response to what they consider an enemy that needs to be defeated.
"I got put on this Earth to do one thing," one of the men, who previously served in Afghanistan, told CBC News on condition his identity not be disclosed. "I got this fire in me. I still want to soldier on."
The source said there should be Western “boots on the ground” and that he’s not concerned about firing back at fellow Canadians who have joined ISIS. In August, a Canadian government report estimated there are about 130 Canadians who have joined terrorist groups abroad, including 30 in Syria.
CBC says at least three Canadian have already traveled to Iraq to join the Kurdish struggle against ISIS, including Canadian-Israeli Gill Rosenberg, Afghanistan war veteran Dillon Hillier and another unidentified Canadian military vet.
At least three U.S. citizens are also known to be fighting with the Kurds.
Brian Wilson, a 43-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran from Ohio who served in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, was fighting with the Kurdish YPG, the national army of Syrian Kurdistan, as recently as late October. Jeremy Woodard, a 28-year-old from Meridian, Mississippi, who did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 2nd Infantry Division, said in October he killed two ISIS militants in the Kurdish town of Jezaa, Iraq, and he is believed to still be fighting.
Jordan Matson, a 28-year-old Sturtevant, Wisconsin, native and U.S. Army veteran, is also fighting with the YPG in Syria and says he will remain “until the end.”
At least three members of a Dutch biker gang known as “No Surrender” are also fighting with the Kurds, with the blessing of the Dutch government.
On Wednesday, the Koerden in NL Twitter feed showed an image purported to be a Dutch and German that have joined the YPG:
Een Nederlander en een Duitser hebben zich vandaag officieel bij de YPG aangesloten pic.twitter.com/4GI7CKSpE3
â€” Koerden in NL (@KoerdenNL) November 19, 2014