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Tel Hamees is a town in Syria northeast, near the eastern boarder with iraq.
Town Ethnic makeup: Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Christians, Ezidi, Sunni,
Troops: Peshmerga YPG, YPJ, & Assyrians vs ISIS
Strategic Importance: This is a town near the Iraqi boarder it also is along a main supply route that ISIS has been using between Mosul and Raqqa.
Battle outcome: 9 YPG died, dozens of ISIS died, hundreds of hostages were taken by ISIS in neigboring towns, Australian YPG fighter Ashley Johnston died, Kurdish fighters fought even harder after the death of the Aussie and were more brutal than normal to the captured and killed ISIS, most of the ISIS were killed,
He was fighting for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units
The final moments of Queensland man Ashley Johnston before he was killed this week while fighting ISIS in northern Iraq have been revealed.
A fellow fighter detailed the last time she spoke to the 28-year-old along with photos of him on The Lions Of Rojava’ Facebook page on Friday.
Fighter Bejan Dagli also revealed how Johnston died, saying the Australian ‘sacrificed himself’ for his comrades.
She was told by a witness: ‘The panzer that we were inside was encircled by the ISIS-thugs and he jumped out of the panzer to cover us and break the siege.’
Dagli also recalled how Johnston told her that he fought for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) because he ‘couldn’t take the children and women that ISIS-thugs slaughtered’.
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The final moments of Queensland man Ashley Johnston (right) have emerged, just before he was killed this week while fighting ISIS in northern Iraq
A fellow fighter detailed one of the final conversations she had with Johnston, who said that he fought for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) because he ‘couldn’t take the children and women that ISIS-thugs slaughtered’
Fellow comrades say Johnston died after a military tank was encircled by ISIS fighters, so the Australian sacrificed himself as he ‘jumped out of the panzer to cover us’
Fighter Bejan Dagli wrote about the final moments of former Australian soldier Ashley Johnston
This comes as Kurdish fighters claim they launched a revenge attack on ISIS to avenge the death of a fallen Australia soldier, posting gruesome images of of rows of dead bodies after the bloody massacre.
It’s believed Johnston was fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) and trying to liberate the ISIS-held town of Tal Hamis in Syria.
When Bejan Dagli, a YPJ fighter, told of her final moments spent with Johnston.
When she asked the former Australian soldier why he was fighting for YPG he said: ‘ISIS is a world’s problem. I couldn’t take the children and women that ISIS-thugs did slaughtered and that’s why l have come to Kurdistan.’
Dagli says other comrades who witnessed Johnston’s death said that ‘he sacrificed himself for us’.
When asked how, one of the comrades responded with tears in her eyes: ‘The panzer that we were inside was encircled by the ISIS-thugs and he jumped out of the panzer to cover us that we could break the encirclement and then he got martyred while trying to cover us and break the siege.’
Dagli also released photos she had taken of Johnston just five days before his death and wrote about how he was picking up Kurdish.
‘You are very diligent and learn quickly…you have learned a lot in 3 months, it is very good,’ she said to him during their final conversation.
To which he simply responded with a smile: ‘Okay, good.’
‘His last words are still jingling in my ears,’ Dagli wrote.
YPG posted gruesome photos on Facebook of soldiers smiling, hugging and posing with the peace symbol in front of rows of dead bodies. They say the attack was to revenge the death of an Australian soldier
The Lions of Rojava Facebook page claim the massacre took place in the ISIS-held town Tal Hamis in Syria
Kurdish fighting group the YPG said one of their ‘bravest western fighters Heval Bagok Serhed’ had been killed in Iraq while fighting ISIS
This comes after the YPG shared the grotesque images and celebratory message on their ‘Lions of Rojava’ Facebook page, claiming that the murders by YPG and YPJ were in the name of Ashley Johnston, his family and for Australia.
The YPG & YPJ has killed many ISIS terrorists pigs in Til Hemis,’ they wrote.
‘Our Comrade from Australia, Heval Bagok Serhed, was martyred during the liberation of Til Hemis.’
They gloated that the slaughter was a form of payback for Johnston, who they refer to as a ‘martyr’. In the images soldiers hug, smile and pose with the peace symbol.
‘We took revenge for Heval Bagok, for his family, Australia and the world. His comrades says that it was a revenge for him and his family.’
Ashley Johnston, 28, originally from Maryborough, Queensland but had most recently been living in Canberra, was remembered by friends and colleagues from an Australian army rifle brigade as ‘a good man’ and ‘the best mate’.
The YPG shared the gruesome images on Facebook with a message proclaiming that the attack was to avenege the death of ‘martyr’ Australian soldier Ashley Johnston
It is understood that Johnston is the first foreign casualty from the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit. This image was posted with the images of the massacre in Syria
It is understood that Johnston is the first foreign casualty from the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG).
‘Defence is aware that a former Australian Army Reserve member is believed to have been killed in northern Iraq while allegedly fighting with Peshmerga forces against Daesh,’ the ADF said in a statement.
‘Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, Defence will not release further information about the former member’s military service or their personal details.’
Ashley Johnston (front, second from right) has been remembered by his friends as the ‘best mate’
His Australian friends and former comrades paid tribute to him on Facebook.
‘RIP Digger,’ wrote Dan McGuire.
‘A great bloke and a best mate,’ posted Lach Key.
‘Taken too soon, rest easy digger,’ said Joshua Crisp.
‘Heavy. Feel for his family,’ added Matt Crisp.
It has been reported that the the young man, who also went by the name ‘Heval Bagok Serhed’, died on February 24.
Johnston was reportedly killed after he became outnumbered when a truck he was travelling in broke down in a small village near Shingal, close to Iraq’s border with Syrian Kurdistan.
Social media was flooded with tributes from Johnston’s grieving friends and fellow servicemen.
Johnston’s Australian mates remembered him as ‘a great bloke and a best mate’ who was a Brisbane Broncos supporter and loved Indian Jones, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.
The man (left) – named only as Ashley on social media – has been described by his friend Aram Ebrahimkhas (right) as a ‘good man’ and said it was an honour to have served with him
The news was first confirmed by the YPG on social media.
‘We the YPG regretfully inform you of the death of one of our bravest western fighters Heval Bagok Serhed. He is the first western fighter to be martyred fighting the evil of ISIS. Rest in Peace our Brother,’ a statement on The Lions Of Rojava’ Facebook page said on Thursday.
The Lions of Rojava are a band of volunteers that help recruit soldiers to the YPG.
The armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party said they could not disclose the Australian’s real identity as of yet for security reasons but in his fighting group in Rojava ‘he went by the name of Heval Bagok Serhed’. They also posted a photo of the man they say has been killed.
The YPG are in conflict with ISIS fanatics in Iraq and Syria. The militants claim that they are working to stop the advance of the destructive Islamic State and protect the Kurdish people.
‘He was a real hero,’ his friend Aram Ebrahimkhas told Daily Mail Australia..
‘Ashley was a good man who never complained and was always positive.
‘He came to defend his country even when his country labeled him a criminal for doing so and before his country was willing to defend itself.
‘I consider it a honour to have known and served with him’
US man Robert Rose also wrote a tribute on Facebook, describing his experience with Johnston as they both fought with the Kurds against Islamic State.
‘RIP to my heval (friend) Ash,” Mr Rose wrote.
‘He was the first 1 when I got in country to teach the basics of my Ak 47 how to strip it assemble it and how to zero it, he was a great guy this really hurts I really feel bad for his family and friends.’
The Lions Of Rojava said in a statement: ‘What we can disclose is his story of heroism and self-sacrifice for the Kurdish people. Throughout his time in Kurdistan he had a positive impact on my people’s lives though his humility and kindness to everyone he met.
‘He was taken from us in a heroic assault on ISIS positions in a small village near Shingal. His squad of eight fighters were in a truck which had broken down and it was critical that they dislodge ISIS from their positions so they pushed on fearlessly with little regard for their own safety.
The Lions of Rojava, a band of volunteers that help recruit soldiers to the YPG, claimed he was ‘outnumbered and outgunned’
The Australian – named only as Ashley on social media – reportedly died on February 24 in a small village near Shingal in Iraq, close to the border with Syrian Kurdistan
The Lions of Rojava posted this tribute to the Australian man they claim has been killed while fighting for them
‘They were massively outnumbered and outgunned but fearless in the face of this as they knew another ISIS death meant saving the lives of countless civilians. He was a fearless and exceptional soldier as well a great man,’ the Facebook statement read.
In a touching tribute to the Australian, the group said: ‘Please keep his family and loved ones in your prayers and remember him and his heroic actions, which saved his comrades. He has given his life in the line of duty for his brothers in arms and for humanity in riding this world of the greatest evil of the 21st century. ISIS.
‘Long live the resistance of the YPG/YPJ and long live the memory of Heval bagok serhed!! Kurdish People will never forget you and you will live in our heart forever.’ There are unconfirmed reports that a second YPG foreign fighter has also been killed. The nationality of the second casualty is not known.
The Kurdish group posted these photos along with a tribute which read: ‘Please keep his family and loved ones in your prayers and remember him and his heroic actions’
The spokesperson added: ‘Current and former members of the Australian Defence Force, like all Australian citizens, are subject to Australian law under which it is an offence to participate in military activities in a foreign country.’
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia told Daily Mail Australia: ‘We are aware of reports that an Australian male has reportedly been killed in northern Syria (on Tuesday 24 Feb). The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an Australian volunteer fighting with Kurdish forces against Da’esh (Islamic State) militia was killed in Syria.’
‘The Australian Government’s capacity to confirm reports of deaths in either Syria or Iraq is extremely limited,’ DFAT said.
‘Due to the extremely dangerous security situation, consular assistance is no longer available within Syria. Australians who become involved in overseas conflicts are putting their own lives in mortal danger.
John Foxx, an American claiming to be one of the Australian’s colleagues, also posted a tribute on Facebook
‘Any Australians fighting with non-state militia in Syria or Iraq should end their involvement in the conflict now and leave the conflict zone. Australians are strongly advised not to travel to Syria or Iraq; any Australians in either country should leave immediately. For further information, please see http://www.smartraveller.gov.au.’
The young man’s sister was reportedly notified of his death on Tuesday, according to Kurdish journalist Cesur Milsuoy.
‘Reliable sources confirmed to SOHR that the foreign fighter in YPG ranks who died yesterday in clashes with IS militants… is from Australia,’ The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
John Foxx, an American claiming to be a fellow fighter along with the Australian, posted a tribute on Facebook.
‘Received some terrible news this morning… K.I.A. Ash, Bagok. Rest Easy, brother,’ he wrote, accompanied by a photo purportedly of the Australian victim.
March of death: Clad all in black, the Islamic State killers have become synonymous with death in the region
A woman named Kader Kandandir, thought to be involved in the recruitment of foreign fighters, also posted a series of photos in tribute to Ashley.
It is understood that the mystery woman runs the ‘Lions of Rojava’ Facebook page, which is a significant recruitment tool.
Ms Kandandir also posted text that she claims was written by Heval Bagok Serhed.
In the article he allegedly writes: ‘Vital info for people interested in coming here to help the Kurdish people. I spent 7 years in my country’s Army reserve (Rifleman and section level combat medic), I only deployed on peacekeeping operations and though I enjoyed my time in the Army it was mostly pretty uneventful.’
The note continues: ‘I am writing this because in my short time here so far I am absolutely disgusted by the amount of westerners that feel the need to either inflate or completely bulls**t their resumé.
‘There are a good number of people here with actual military experience from all over the globe that CAN AND WILL immediately spot you as a fake (all the COD in the world won’t hide you’re complete lack of basic soldiering).
‘If you have no military experience yet have skills that can be utilised and the right attitude then don’t worry, be honest and the guys here will glady get you up to speed as best they can. Lieing about yourself over here is not only selfish but incredibly stupid.
‘The Kurdish people are some of the most kind and trusting people I’ve ever met and your lies will get people killed. ‘This isn’t a playground to live some fantasty/play soldier…it’s a f**king war torn region with countless people suffering, dieing and being displaced.
‘Coming here full of bulls**t and for selfish reasons is a waste of everyone’s time, effort and money and will simply get you a kick in the a*** back to the airport.’
They YPG proclaim themselves to be ‘a natural partner in a coalition the United States is trying to assemble to fight Islamic State militants.’
In an interview with Vanity Fair , an American revealed an Australian fighter was lightly injured when a mortar ‘landed in our faces’.
Under Australian law, it is illegal to join either side of the conflict in Syria, meaning those joining the fight with YPG are committing a criminal offence.
‘If you fight illegally in overseas conflicts, you face up to life in prison upon your return to Australia,’ a spokesperson for Attorney-General George Brandis said in January.
‘It is illegal to fight in Syria for either side of the conflict. It is illegal to fight for a terrorist organisation anywhere, including in Iraq.’
Around 90 Australians are understood to have travelled to the Middle East to join militant causes.
Australians may only fight for a government’s legitimate armed force and the Kurds are not recognised as operating in an official capacity for Iraq.
Injured in Iraq: Matthew Kawolski was fighting alongside the Chappies – a unit of Westerners within the Syria-based People’s Protection Units (YPG), when he was apparently hurt in combat
Injured: Kawolski, who is among a slew of foreigners fighting ISIS in the region, is recovering from his injuries, which were detailed in the Facebook page for the foreign fighters group the Lions of Rojava
Kurdish fighters are thought to be using social media to recruit Westerners to travel to the Middle East.
Several foreigners have travelled to the Middle East from all corners of the world to confront the bloodthirsty Islamic State.
Last week, an American man called Matthew Kawolski was injured when fighting alongside the Chappies.
Kawolski, who was apparently wounded in combat, is now believed to be recovering from his injuries.
Also pictured alongside Kawolski on the Lions of Rojava page is Jordan Matson, a 28-year-old food packaging worker from Sturtevant, Wisconsin. He is a former U.S. Army soldier, but it is believed he had never served overseas.
Last week, a British soldier who left to fight alongside militants described ISIS as little more than ‘office workers and villagers’ who are high on drugs because they are so terrified.
Jamie Read from Lanarkshire, Scotland, served in the British Army for four years before travelling to Syria in 2014 to join the battle against Islamic State extremists.
Last August, a hairdresser from south London, known as Mama Kurda, 26, from Croydon, was reported to be the first Briton to travel to fight alongside Kurdish forces.
Warrior: Jamie Read (left and right) from Lanarkshire, Scotland, served in the British Army for four years before travelling to Syria in 2014 to join the battle against extremists
Battle: Jordan Matson, a former soldier for the US Army, is another American serving in the fight against ISIS
Two women, Canadian Jew Gill Rosenberg, 31, and Danish Kurd Joanna Palani, 20, have also reportedly travelled to fight with the Kurds, inspired perhaps by the images of female fighters on the front line against Islamic State terrorists.
In early February a Dutch citizen, Richard Jansen, who went to fight with Kurdish forces was seriously injured in a fight against IS militants.
He reportedly suffered ‘a very serious injury sustained during heavy fighting against ISIL’.
There are also claims that a number of European biker gangs have travelled to Syria and are helping the resistance.
Leaders of the Cologne-based Median Empire Motorcycle Club, which has strong Kurdish links, have posted images of their German riders posing in the city – some of them carrying weapons.
A notorious motorcycle gang from the Netherlands were also told they had not committed any crime by travelling to Kobani to join the fight against ISIS.
Former Northern Territory Labor Party official Matthew Gardiner recently left Australia to fight with Kurdish military.
He held the roles of secretary of the United Voice union and president of the NT branch of the Labor party.
Labor party leader Bill Shorten said that although it was clear Gardiner felt strongly about fighting the Islamic State, fleeing to the conflict was not the right approach.
The Australian Federal Police has confirmed it is investigating the case after the former NT union official and senior NT Labor Party figure fled without telling colleagues or his family.
Volunteer: NT Labour Party leader Matthew Gardiner has left Australia to reportedly join the fight with YGP
It is understood the 43-year-old, who recently resigned as NT United Voice union secretary, was heading for Iraq or Syria where he plans to join Kurdish militants.
Gardiner, who has an army background, was allowed to leave the country because he was not on any watch list, ABC reported.
The AFP would only confirm Gardiner was the subject of an active investigation.
‘The AFP is aware of this matter,’ an AFP spokesperson said on Sunday.
‘As this matter is part of an ongoing investigation it is not appropriate to comment further.’
A union spokesperson would only confirm Mr Gardiner had recently resigned, and said any further questions should be put the AFP.
Mr Gardiner is also head of the NT Labor Party, though his status in this role remains unclear.
Foreigners: Around 90 Australians are understood to have travelled to the Middle East to join militant causes
Dedicated: Volunteers from around the world have reportedly headed to Iraq or Syria where they join Kurdish militants in their fight against IS
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