Ex-Marine dies fighting IS in Syria

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Published: Wednesday 4th March 2015 by The News Editor

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A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting against Islamic State in Syria.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was named by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

A picture emerged that appeared to show Mr Scurfield wearing military fatigues and holding an assault rifle with several foreign fighters and Kurds.

A statement on the Kurdish Question website read: “We can confirm that Konstandinos Erik Scurfield died in battle, probably in Hasakah although the full details are yet to be announced by YPG.”

Vicci Scurfield, the ex-Royal Marine’s mother, said the family, who live in a detached former farmhouse in the village of Royston, was “reeling”.

She told Sky News: “We’re waiting to hear from the police and Foreign Office, trying to get our heads round everything.”

Mark Campbell, a pro-Kurdish rights campaigner, said he broke the news to Mr Scurfield’s mother.

He said: “It was just awful, to be honest. Just to receive a phone call with that sort of news was just devastating.

“It was so incredibly difficult, it was very, very emotional, she was literally in tears the whole conversation.

“I really just wanted to inform her, to give her a message from the YPG that they have said they would love to bury Konstandinos as one of their comrades in arms, as a hero, but equally, they also want to be guided by the family and will respect the wishes of the family.”

Mr Campbell said Mr Scurfield’s death also had a great impact on his friends and colleagues.

He said: “I’ve got a message from Jordan Matson saying that he is lying with his (Mr Scurfield’s) body.

“I think he’s been incredibly affected by his death as well, I think he was one of his closest friends.”

Neighbours said that lights had been on all night at the family’s property in Royston, where they are thought to have lived for about 12 years.

Mr Scurfield’s father is understood to work as an archaeologist.

Mr Matson, believed to be a former US soldier fighting with the Kurds, paid tribute on Facebook to Mr Scurfield, describing him as a “disciplined warrior”.

He posted: “Words cannot describe how honored I have been to fight at your side Sehid Kemal (Konstandions Erik Sculfield).

“We were together from his first day here and you couldn’t ask for a more disciplined warrior.

“Kosta, as we call him, was from the United Kingdom and was born a Greek citizen. He served both in the Greek army and as a British Royal Marine commando up until he came here. He served with me in Jezza and Shengal.

“Kosta volunteered for every attack and guard duty opportunity. He wanted nothing more than to bring the fight to the enemy.

“I’m going to carry on your legacy, brother, I will never forget you. I love you, man. Save me a place up there, big guy.”

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, said he understood Mr Scurfield initially travelled to Syria to provide humanitarian assistance.

British authorities have not yet given him formal confirmation that Mr Scurfield has been killed.

Mr Jarvis told Sky News: “My understanding is that he had very significant ideological concerns about what is happening, about the actions Islamic State were taking in the region, and he wanted to make a contribution.

“My understanding is that he went there to make a humanitarian contribution, he didn’t go there to fight, he provided medical assistance.

“In terms of precisely what’s happened, we don’t know yet but my understanding was that he went there for honourable reasons.

“But I repeat, the Foreign Office have been incredibly clear in the travel advice that they’ve issued, that people should not travel to the region.

“There are other ways in which people who have these legitimate concerns can make a contribution, supporting charities or NGOs. The advice is rightly not to go there.”

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

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

It was reported that he left his base after telling his family he was joining the Kurdish military forces in their battle against IS because ”these guys need our help”.

In a letter to his family he claimed to have met other British people and a Canadian while there.

In December it emerged that two former British soldiers had travelled to Syria to fight against IS after feeling ”compelled” to take up arms following the murder of aid volunteer Alan Henning.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Syria.

“The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria, where all UK consular services are suspended.

“As we do not have any representation in Syria, it is extremely difficult to get any confirmation of deaths or injuries and our options for supporting British nationals there are extremely limited.”

Published: Wednesday 4th March 2015 by The News Editor

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