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Syria Hundreds turn out for martyr's return

Bodies of Jac Holmes and Ollie Hall return home

HUNDREDS of people lined the streets near Heathrow airport yesterday to welcome home the bodies of two men killed fighting against Isis in Syria.

Jac Holmes and Ollie Hall, who served with the largely Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), were both killed during a clear-up operation after the liberation of Raqqa.

Mr Holmes was one of the longest-serving international volunteers having joined the YPG in 2015 and his mother Angie Blannin described him as a “totally fearless” young man who “liked helping the underdog.”

The former IT worker from Bournemouth had fought in major battles in Tel Hamis, Manbij, Tabqa and Raqqa. He was killed in October while clearing landmines just days after the liberation of Raqqa.

Mr Hall was killed in November rescuing a young boy who tried to enter a house that was wired with booby traps, according to YPG sources.

The Portsmouth man had spent the previous month fighting in Deir ez-Zour and had only joined the YPG in August 2017.

His mother, Jane Lyndon, described her son as a hero whose “greatest attribute was his caring nature, particularly towards children and animals.”

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (KSC) co-chair Mark Campbell described the deaths as “a tragedy and a cruel twist of history” coming after jihadists has been cleared out of Raqqa.

“Jac was taken into the hearts of the Kurdish people and will never be forgotten and is loved by Kurds all around the world. And Jac is now with all of us,” he said.

Mr Campbell told those gathered: “Ollie was an equally brave young man who showed that bravery on the frontline fighting Isis. He will never be forgotten.

“We say in the Kurdish movement ‘sehid namirin’ (martyrs are immortal) — you will never be forgotten.”

Seven British volunteers in total have been killed while fighting with the YPG, including Mehmet Aksoy, 32, Luke Rutter, 22, Ryan Lock, 20, Dean Evans, 22, and Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25.

The Foreign Office advises against all travel to Syria.


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