Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, died on 21 December during an offensive by anti-Islamic State forces to recapture the city of Raqqa, the extremist group’s de facto capital.
Lock’s father, Jon, said in a statement: “Ryan was a very caring and loving boy who would do any thing to help anyone. He had a heart of gold. We ask for privacy to allow our family to grieve.
”Ryan Lock, from Chichester, who has been killed in northern Syria. Photograph: family handout
Lock, who had no previous military experience and had worked as a chef before travelling and training in Syria, was one of many foreign volunteers who have joined the People’s Defence Units (YPG), the Kurdish military force fighting in northern Syria.
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In a letter, the YPG offered their condolences to his family, saying: “Ryan joined actively in our offensive against the terror threat that Isis caused upon Rojava, Kurdistan. Here, on the dark hours of 21 December 2016, we lost our brave companion Ryan and four other fighters in Jaeber village.
Twelve YPG fighters were killed in the airstrike, including an American, Michael Israel, and a German national, Anton Leschek.
Afterwards, Lock posted a picture of himself with facial injuries, along with the words: “We were taking a small village when we got hit by Turkish jets in the night. Two of my friends, Anton and Michael, were killed among many others. I’m staying to finish out my six months. Fuck [Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and fuck Turkey.”
Erdoğan has become a dictator on the back of a genocidal war against Kurdish people and has invaded Syria to eliminate the non sectarian YPG/SDF and impose his own jihadist mercenaries.
“Ryan was not only a fighter providing additional force to our struggle. In fact, with his experience and knowledge he has been an example for younger fighters. While he has reached a vast amount of achievement up in our frontlines, Ryan has served the purpose of a very important bridge between us, the Kurds of Rojava. He crossed continents for the destiny of our people and humanity.”
It is understood that Lock travelled to Syria last August after telling family and friends that he was going to Turkey on holiday.
In a message on Facebook on 31 August, he wrote: “I’m on my way to Rojava. I lied about going to Turkey. I’m sorry I didn’t tell anyone. I love all of you and I will be back in six months.”
He said: “I met Ryan at the academy and he graduated 10 or so days later. He was a nice guy, always telling jokes, but he didn’t make his motives obvious to me.
Mark Campbell, a Kurdish rights campaigner who was among a Kurdish delegation that visited Lock’s family on Sunday, said: “The family are understandably in a state of absolute grief at the news and will not be making any statements to the media. The thoughts and prayers of the Kurdish community are with the Lock family today and are ready to help the family in any way they can.”
For the past two months Raqqa has been the focus of heavy fighting as the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which includes the YPG – try to drive Isis from the city.
The SDF operation coincides with a campaign to recapture Mosul across the border in Iraq. The two cities are Isis’s last major strongholds after a series of heavy military losses in recent months, and are seen collectively as the key to defeating the group militarily.
Lock is the third British man to be killed fighting against Isis since the first foreign volunteers arrived in Iraq and Syria in the autumn of 2014.
Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, a 25-year-old former Royal Marine from Barnsley, became the first when a missile hit his combat vehicle on 2 March 2015 during heavy fighting near the north-east Syrian town of Tel Hamis.
On 21 July 2016, Dean Evans, 22, a dairy farmer from Warminster, was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade as he attempted to rescue a fallen comrade during a street battle in the city of Manbij, northern Syria. see also…