Body of Kurdish ‘martyr’ comes home

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Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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The body of an ex-Royal Marine who was the first Briton to be killed while fighting against Islamic State (IS) is expected to be returned to the UK later this week.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was shot dead on March 2 while fighting in Syria alongside Kurdish forces in the frontline village of Tel Khuzela.

His body was given to his father and uncle at the weekend in a ceremony on the Syria-Iraq border involving hundreds of Syrian Kurds.

It will be flown back to the UK tomorrow, according to Mark Campbell, a pro-Kurdish rights campaigner who broke the news of Mr Scurfield’s death to his mother.

Mr Campbell posted on his Facebook page: “The remains of the first UK YPG martyr Sehid Kemal, or Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, will be arriving at Manchester Airport 10am Friday March 20.

“It is the duty of every Kurd and friends of the Kurdish struggle in Syria to be there to show our respect to this fallen hero, who, frustrated by the lack of UK action and support for the Kurds’ heroic battle against Isis, put his own life on the line for his own personal principles. Time to welcome him home!”

Earlier this week, Mr Scurfield’s mother Vasliki told a reception in Parliament how proud she was of her son and said: “Let’s stop standing by and let’s instead think creatively about grinding down and putting out the biggest threat to the world since the Nazis.

“Kosta was not a mercenary, he wasn’t an out of work soldier looking for an adventure or something to do to pass the time.

“And although this is not the way that many of us would have had him choose, it is the way he considered best for him and I’m proud of him for finding the courage to do this.”

She added: “Kosta may not have been supporting British political interests with his actions but he was certainly supporting British values.”

Mrs Scurfield urged governments and media across the world to “shine a spotlight” on IS and to name and shame all organisations and states supporting them in any way.

She said: “He (her son) was a small drop in an ocean but he has caused big ripples.”

Mr Scurfield’s father Chris told the BBC the ceremony at the weekend was “overwhelming” and “very special and very comforting” to his family.

His coffin was draped with the Kurdish and Union flags and hundreds of people, including Kurdish fighters in the region, watched as the body was loaded on to an ambulance to be taken to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Mr Scurfield, who was an expert in battlefield medicine, is believed to have travelled to Syria three or four months ago hoping to provide medical and humanitarian support.

He was said to have been “horrified by the atrocities being carried out by IS”.

In a statement following his death, Mr Scurfield’s family said: “His flame might have burned briefly but it burned brightly with love, courage, conviction and honour and we are very proud of him.”

While high numbers of foreigners are known to have joined IS, around 100 Westerners – including several Britons – are thought to have travelled to fight alongside the Kurds.

Last month, a 19-year-old serving British soldier was returned to his unit after joining the Kurdish peshmerga.

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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