Turkish airstrike kills two Western SDF fighters near Manbij

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The two Western volunteers in SDF ranks who were killed by Turkish fire. Photo: MMC

ARA News

Manbij – Michael Israel from California and Anton Leschek from Bielefeld were killed in a Turkish airstrike on November 24. The two men were foreign volunteers, serving in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“Michael and Anton were martyred on November 24 as a result of Turkish airstrikes on western Manbij,” the SDF said in a statement.

“We were taking a small village when we got hit by Turkish jets in the night. Two of my friends, Leschek and Michael, were killed along with many others,” an SDF officer confirmed.

Dozens of international volunteers joined the campaign to liberate Manbij city in May, fighting alongside local Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen soldiers.

“Coming from around the world, it was of great importance to them to cut the transfer route of Daesh terrorists from Manbij to Turkey and then to Europe – for that, they were ready to sacrifice their lives,” the Manbij Military Council said, employing an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Several volunteers died while fighting Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists in Manbij’s urban warrens. The SDF previously said that “three volunteers from the US and two others from the UK and Slovenia, were martyred alongside their fellow freedom fighters.” Israel’s death makes him the fourth American fatality.

SDF fighters mourned the loss of Israel and Leschek on Friday. “It’s with a heavy heart that I learned today that heval Michael Israel passed away fighting ISIS,” an international volunteer said.

“Michael was a man of extremely powerful convictions; an inspiring, idealistic fighter who struggled unlike any other for a better world,” he continued. “Michael spent his whole life fighting systems of injustice that deny peace, and trekked the states spreading awareness against the Iraq war.”

“He conferred his experiences and lessons from both Syria and the states with everyone. He died the very way he lived and his legacy is an example of how a true revolutionary should be. History will exalt him as one of the greatest of our generation,” the volunteer eulogized. “He taught me a lot, I’ll never forget him.”

Michael Israel adopted the nom de guerre Robîn Agirî after he left the US. He joined the SDF in July, declaring that he was “here to protect the peoples’ revolution in Rojava and fight the enemies of the struggle.”

Anton Leschek adopted the nom de guerre Zana Ciwan after leaving Germany. Upon joining the SDF, he declared that “here people neither surrender to tyranny nor to terror; I will support this democratic revolution to the end.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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