British volunteer killed clearing landmines in Raqqa after joining fight against ISIS
A British man who travelled to Syria to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) has died. Oliver Hall, from the south of England, was killed on November 25 during a mine clearance operation in Raqqa, the former IS capital.
Hall, 24, was working alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) when he died, an announcement said. The Hampshire man has been described as a “lovely lad” who was “excited to be there” after traveling to join the troops in August.
Mark Campbell, co-chair of the Kurdish Solidarity Campaign, said: “It is with deep regret and sorrow that I can confirm via Kurdish sources in Syria that Ollie Hall, a UK national who travelled to Syria in August to help in the liberation of the ISIS city of Raqqa with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), fell on 25 November from an explosion of ordinance left by Daesh [IS] after the liberation of the city. Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Ollie at this time.”
Hall, who went by the name Canşêr Zagros, is the seventh British man to have been killed in Syria with the Kurdish-led group. He was fighting alongside an infantry division, which comprised a mixture of Kurdish and international fighters.
Kevin Benton, an ex-soldier and British volunteer who met Hall in Syria, said: “He wanted to stop ISIS.”
It is understood Hall’s family were made aware of his death on Tuesday.
“I spoke to him last week just to see how he was doing, he seemed happy," Benton told the BBC.
“He wasn’t a soldier before he came to Syria, but he was professional and was really keen to learn. He was a very popular guy, everyone liked him. He wanted to be at the front, and wanted to be right where the action was, and he wasn't scared to go. He will be sadly missed.”
The YPG is backed by the US and is a large component of the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting against IS. The mission to liberate Raqqa ended in recent months, although there are fears pockets of those who support the so-called caliphate still remain.
IS has also left a deadly legacy of bombs and explosives, often found in homes, mosques, and vital public buildings to wreak havoc after they have left an area.
The British Foreign Office has not commented.