Ex-Scots soldier fighting IS slams ‘shameful’ UK

A FORMER Scottish soldier who is fighting Islamic State (IS) alongside Kurdish forces in Syria has described the British government’s response to the threat as “shameful”.

Kurdish fighters and foreign volunteers fighting Islanmic State pose for a photo in Sinjar, Iraq. Australian Ashley 'Ase' Johnson, right, and Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, front, have died. Picture: AP

Alan Duncan said that the recent terror attacks in Paris would be “nothing” if the IS threat – which he refers to by the derogatory term “Daesh” adopted by some international governments – was not stopped.

“They [the Kurdish soldiers] are the line between the West and Daesh,” said Mr Duncan, a former soldier with the Royal Irish Regiment. “If we don’t beat them here, you watch out – Paris is going to be nothing.”

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He said that his presence, along with that of a number of other Westerners who have volunteered to help the Kurdish forces, boosted the spirits of local people, who have had their homes and lives destroyed by IS militants. The UK government is believed to draw a distinction between Britons fighting with the militants and those fighting against them, but has warned that British citizens taking part in any overseas conflict could be breaking the law.

Speaking from Duhok in northern Iraq, where he is training an Assyrian Christian group alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga, Mr Duncan, whose time in the British Army included tours in Northern Ireland and the Gulf, said: “I wear the Union Jack on my uniform. The others wear their flags and what have you.

“It actually lifts the spirit of the people. They kind of feel that, just seeing us foreigners here, it lifts their spirits.

“They feel that they have not been abandoned by the West. The British government disgusts me. I’m a Tory, yet my government is shameful. It’s their lack of action in this country. Their lack of action to help Kurdish people.”

He added: “It’s not only the Western hostages being killed and murdered by them. That’s happening 100 times a day here to the Kurdish people, to the Christians.”

Mr Duncan, who first travelled to Syria last year, when he spent five weeks supporting Kurdish troops, said that, on his return, he had been stopped by UK officials who had quizzed him on why he was travelling to Syria.

“I told them I’m coming back to help the Kurdish people fight Daesh,” he said.

He was previously part of the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia that has become well known worldwide for its defence and ultimate victory in the border town of Kobane. Previous interviews have revealed that, in his last tour, Mr Duncan spent time on the front line, taking part in one particular battle against an IS attack. He said in February that in his next trip, which he is currently undertaking, he may join the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish army.

He described IS as “animals” and said the group were “the most disgusting people since the Nazis”.

“The Nazis wanted to annihilate one race, but Daesh want to annihilate every race,” he said.

This week, a young German woman became the first Western female killed fighting alongside the Kurdish forces. The unnamed soldier, believed to be in her 20s, was the third Westerner to die following reports of the killing of former British soldier Konstandinos Erik Scurfield and Australian Ashley Johnston who died in clashes elsewhere in Hasakeh in the past month.

Some Western soldiers have spoken openly about their time helping the Kurdish forces, including Jordan Matson, an American ex-serviceman now well-known from social media, who is a strong Christian and says grace before meals – supported by his Muslim colleagues.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK advises against all travel to Syria and parts of Iraq. Taking part in a conflict overseas can be an offence under both criminal and terror laws.”