Jac Holmes: British man fighting against Islamic State killed clearing landmines in Syria

Jac Holmes: British man fighting against Islamic State killed clearing landmines in Syria
British citizen Jac Holmes was killed while clearing landmines in newly-liberated Raqqa in Syria, where he fought alongside Kurdish forces against Islamic State militants.
2 min read
24 October, 2017
Former IT worker Jac Holmes was volunteering with Kurdish forces in Syria [Facebook]
A British man who fought alongside Kurdish forces against Islamic State militants in Syria has been killed in Raqqa a week after the city was liberated.

Jac Holmes, a former IT worker from Bournemouth, had been volunteering with the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) since 2015.

He was killed on Monday, his family said, while clearing an area of landmines to make it safe for civilians to return after extremists were ousted from their de-facto capital.

His mother, Angie Blannin, said the 24-year-old, who had no previous military training before going into battle, had been a "hero in my eyes".

"He loved what he was doing there, he loved being a soldier. He had the courage of his convictions," she told BBC.

"He was just a boy when he left the UK, a little bit lost. He told me he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. But by going out there, he found something that he was good at and that he loved.

"He stuck by his convictions because he wanted to be there and he wanted to see the end of Raqqa and to see the end of the caliphate. That was a moment in history, and he wanted to be part of it."

On Sunday, Holmes posted video of himself on Facebook walking into Raqqa's central sports stadium for the first time since the battle for the city ended.

He wrote: "We spent weeks seeing this place from hundreds of metres away. It was strange walking the streets and finally going inside."

Ozkan Ozdil, who fought with Holmes in Syria, told the BBC his friend had become well-known and respected among Kurdish fighting units, even acquiring Kurdish nom de guerre Sores Amanos – "sores" meaning "revolution".

He said: "Everybody knew Jac. By his third tour out there his Kurdish was fluent. We had a bit of a laugh that he was my Kurdish translator."

He was one of a number of British volunteers who travelled to fight IS during the Syrian conflict.

Holmes is believed to be the sixth British citizen to be killed while fighting alongside the Kurds in Syria.