American veterans of Iraq war join Kurds battling ISIL

Soldiers with combat experience from US occupation say reports of ISIL atrocities have brought them back - on their own.

    Veterans of the US occupation of Iraq have been joining Kurdish units fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in northern Iraq.

    Al Jazeera spoke to a number of the men, who had crossed into Iraq a few months ago, and had since taken part in clashes against ISIL fighters, alongside Kurdish Peshmerga troops.

    One former member of the US Marine Corps, who went by the name Kurt, said the volunteers have been moved to take part in the conflict by reports of atrocities ISIL had committed since they seized large parts of Iraq a year ago.

    One Minute ISIL

    "I just thought it was the right thing to do. ... I saw a lot of the atrocities happening via the news, the beheading and the slave trade," he said.

    Kurt explained that he and other former US soldiers had been smuggled across Turkey's border by a group called Frame, which had since disbanded.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from southern Kirkuk, said the men brought military experience with them but were short on the equipment needed to fend off ISIL fighters.

    "The arms they carry are good for urban warfare, not for a battlefield like this, where there's open terrain," she said.

    Another volunteer she spoke to said his weapons could not hit targets beyond 200m.

    The fighters have been welcomed by Kurdish authorities and factions, which have made use of Western volunteers in both Iraq and Syria.


    READ MORE: Kurds and ISIL battle over Kirkuk


    However, the Iraqi government in Baghdad has rejected their presence.

    The US military has reinforced Kurdish and Iraqi government campaigns to retake territory held by ISIL through an aerial campaign, and by sending non-combat military advisers.

    Despite the presence of Western air power, ISIL has continued to make gains, most recently taking Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi, after more than a year of clashes in the city.

    The Pentagon has ruled out sending combat troops to fight ISIL.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.