Three of the foreign fighters to rally to the call for international support from Rojava have been killed fighting Turkish military Forces. Turkish forces began their assault against the Syrian Democratic Forces in January this year and have Killed a number of SDF fighters as well as civilians as a result. The offensive was launched under the banner of “Operation Olive Branch” in an attempt to capture Kurdish lands that were once Turkish before the Islamic State. To date the Turkish military has admitted to the death of 32 soldiers and the destruction of several military vehicles.
Two of the mean killed were fighting in the disputed territory of Afrin while the other was killed in Deir ez-Zor. The men identified as Sjoerd Heeger, Olivier François Jean Le Clainche, and Samuel Prada Leon were all from European countries; While Clainche and Leon, who were from Spain and France, were new to conflict and had shown up recently. Heeger, a Netherlands native, was no stranger to war having served in Ukraine with nationalist para-military forces fighting against Russian separatists. The Afrin deaths occurred on February 10, which was the deadliest day Turkish forces have experienced thus far having lost 1 helicopter and 11 soldiers; Heeger was killed in Deir ez-Zoir on Monday.
The YPG later released a statement, “They were determined to protect the revolution and its gains at the expense of their lives,” and, “These comrades, who are part of this magnificent resistance that our struggle has embarked on behalf of human dignity in the Middle East, have become symbols of the internationalist revolutionary spirit and struggle for democracy in the Middle East. We offer our condolences to the families of our martyrs, to their loved ones, and to all the progressive people.”
The United States denies giving support to the SDF/YPG forces in Afrin and has continued in efforts to dissuade Turkish president Erdogan from continuing his assault on the Kurdish Cantons. Footage of Turkish military forces collaborating with Islamic extremist militant groups has come across social media on several occasions and not long ago the body of a female YPG fighter was desecrated by Turkish proxies, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This week a video emerged of Turkish military personnel executing Kurdish female fighters, shooting them in the head and throwing them into a pit.