People in Afrin take to the streets to demonstrate against Turkey's assault in early-February 2018. Photo: Delil Souleiman | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Three men from Europe have died fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria, two in defense of Afrin and one in Deir ez-Zor.
The mostly-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) announced the deaths of Sjoerd Heeger, Olivier François Jean Le Clainche, and Samuel Prada Leon on Sunday.
Clainche was born in Malestroit, Spain, in 1977. Leon was born in Ourense in 1993. Both died defending Afrin on February 10.
That was the deadliest day for Turkish soldiers in their Operation Olive Branch, losing 11 soldiers and a helicopter.
"They were determined to protect the revolution and its gains at the expense of their lives," read a statement from the YPG.
Olivier François Jean Le Clainche (left), Olivier François Jean Le Clainche (top-right), and Sjoerd Heeger fought and died alongside Kurdish forces in Syria. Photo: YPG Press
"These comrades, who are part of this magnificent resistance that our struggle has embarked on behalf of human dignity in the Middle East, have become symbols of the internationalist revolutionary spirit and struggle for democracy in the Middle East," continued the statement.
Afrin, in northwestern Syria, has been under assault by the Turkish military and its proxies since January 20. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 94 civilians in Afrin as of Saturday.
Heeger was born in the Netherlands in 1993. He died on Monday in Deir ez-Zor.
"We offer our condolences to the families of our martyrs, to their loved ones, and to all the progressive people," the YPG statement added.
According to the Turkish Armed Forces, 32 soldiers have been killed and at least 170 injured in Operation Olive Branch through Saturday.
The US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has backed the YPG in eastern Syria, including in Deir ez-Zor.
The United States denies backing the YPG in Afrin or providing heavy weapons to the group which is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
A British man died in Raqqa while clearing mines alongside the YPG in January.