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Three foreign YPG volunteers released from jail, going home

By Rudaw 24/4/2016
A group of international volunteers fighting with the YPG. Photo: Uygar Onder Simsek/AFP
A group of international volunteers fighting with the YPG. Photo: Uygar Onder Simsek/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Three foreigners who fought with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have today been released from detention after being arrested crossing the border into the Kurdistan Region.

Two Britons and an Irishman were arrested in Sinjar for entering the country illegally and detained for about 10 days by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil. 

The three are Joshua Molloy from Ireland, and Jac Holmes and Joe Ackerman, both from Britain.

Joshua Molloy, 24, first went to Kurdish Rojava, northern Syria, in March 2015. He had previously served with the British Army for four years. He was moved to join the YPG after being horrified by the crimes of the Islamic State (ISIS), particularly the massacre of Yezidis in Shingal. 

Molloy’s father, Declan Molloy, told Ireland’s public broadcaster RTÉ that his son did not consider himself a freedom fighter but felt he was joining a humanitarian cause. “His intention was to go over there and help in any way he can,” he said. 

Jac Holmes was 22 when he went to fight against ISIS in January last year. He was an IT worker with no previous military experience but also felt compelled to join the campaign against ISIS.

“They are a horrendous terrorist organization, they enslave, pillage – they think they're justified under their version of Islam,” Holmes was quoted as saying by the BBC. “Anyone of a sane mind can see there is nothing religious or righteous about it.”

Holmes was shot in the arm in May during an attempt to take a village from ISIS. He returned to Britain to receive medical care and then rejoined the YPG.

On his release Sunday, Holmes posted on Facebook “Got out of jail peeps, thanks for the support.”

Joe Ackerman updated his Facebook status with just the one word, “Free.”

Ackerman is also a former soldier. Kurdish media reported that Ackerman joined the YPG after becoming disillusioned by the West’s failure to take on ISIS. “Nobody else seemed to be doing anything,” he was quoted in the Kurdish Daily News.

Foreigners crossing the border into the Kurdistan Region illegally face up to one month jail time. They may also be fined up to $1000 per month for expired visas. 

Molloy’s father called it “ironic” that his son, who had volunteered to help the Kurds was then detained by Kurdish authorities. 

Western nations have warned their citizens against travel to Syria and Iraq and joining the fight against ISIS saying that they may face criminal charges on returning home. Despite the warnings, hundreds from North America and Europe have made their way to join Kurdish forces.

Consular officials are now arranging for the three men to return home. 


Hamido | 25/4/2016
I think it is clear for Bakur and Rojava Kurds that Bashur will be always their enemy, no matter what happen. Even organizations like ISIS won't help them. I heard that they are already separating their language and culture from Sorania and Bashur Kurds in European countries.
mryildiz | 25/4/2016
Is this how we thanked these good people with good intensions? Our politics sucks. Our local goverment don't have obey every turkish orders! Turkish goverment will destroy you, they're not your friends! They're killing your brothers everywhere!
Biji Kurdistan | 25/4/2016
I don't see a problem if foreign fighters want to fight for Kurdistan. The bravery and heroism of the Peshmerga and the YPG has inspired millions all over the world. If a foreign volunteer wants to put their life on the line so a Kurd doesn't have to, then I think they should be commended instead of imprisoned. Especially if they have useful skills,and they pay their own way there. On a side note, I think the father's reaction to his sons imprisonment in Kurdistan speaks volumes about how ridiculous the Rojava-KRG border closure is.
Help the Ezidis | 25/4/2016
Returned Daesh-barbars in European countries do not find any obstacle although the European states have an article in their law that anybody who serves/d in an army outside their country will lose his passport. No European country did something like that. The KRG is overactive to jail men who helped the Syrian Kurdish army: that is wrong and it is just to show the outside world how well-behaved the KRG operates.
Sabr Jaf | 25/4/2016
They should be greeted like Heros and welcomed for their bravery and courage to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brave men and women who fights this barbaric terrorist organisation not detaining them for ten days .they should be awarded with medals and introduced by Kurdish media to the nation.

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