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British volunteer who fought with Syrian Kurds against IS and Turkey commits suicide Open in fullscreen

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British volunteer who fought with Syrian Kurds against IS and Turkey commits suicide

Jamie Janson, 42, fought IS alongside Kurdish forces. [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 September, 2019

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Jamie Janson, 42, travelled to Syria to fight IS alongside Kurdish forces, before moving into battle against Turkish troops who launched an attack on the city of Afrin.

A British volunteer who fought with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) against the Islamic State group (IS) has reportedly committed suicide, pro-Kurdish media reported this week.

Jamie Janson, 42, travelled to Syria to fight IS alongside Kurdish forces in their former stronghold of Deir az-Zour, before moving into battle against Turkish forces who launched an attack on the city of Afrin.

"We international volunteers are standing with our friends in Afrin against the forces of tyranny and aggression," he said last year in a video.

Janson was arrested by British police after his return from Syria in 2018 on suspicion of terror offences, but later released.

His arrest had angered pro-Kurdish campaigners.

"Jamie was passionately committed and came from a long background of activist work," Macer Gifford, a former British volunteer with Syrian Kurdish forces told Kurdistan 24, confirming he had committed suicide.

"I think he worked in Bulgaria, in refugee camps for a number of years, and went to Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) because of his beliefs and he got a lot of respect from the Kurds after he went to Afrin."

He continued to support the Kurdish struggle on his return to the UK, but "sadly killed himself", Gifford added.

Janson was the grand-nephew of scandal-hit Conservative minister and former secretary of state for war John Profumo.

Researchers say there is a pattern of suicides among international volunteers who fought with Kurdish forces against IS.

"War inevitably enacts a heavy psychological toll. During our research, we have spoken to many families, civilians and combatants who are suffering enduring psychological scars as a result of the Turkish invasion of Afrin," Thomas McClure, a Syria-based researcher at the Rojava Information Center, told Kurdistan 24.

Eight UK citizens have so far died in Syria while fighting with the Kurdish forces.

Earlier this year, the British Home Office told UK nationals they had just 28 days to leave northern Syria or risk up to ten years in prison on terrorism charges on their return to the UK. 

Hundreds of foreign fighters have fought alongside the YPG and YPJ in Syria, mostly backing the Kurdish militia in its battle against the Islamic State group.

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