Two American citizens and one British have been killed fighting against ISIS in Syrian town of Raqqa, their Kurdish commanders have said. Robert Grodt, 28 from Santa Cruz and 29-year-old Nicholas Warden, who claimed to be from Buffalo, New York, but was listed as coming from Fort Steward, Georgia were killed in an ambush.
The men are believed to have been taking part in a patrol in ISIS’s de-facto capital Raqqa when they were ambushed by militants. A YPG source to The Guardian that the patrol was a few miles from the city center when they came under heavy fire after a fighter triggered an explosion of an IED.
It is understood that ISIS militants opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. A British citizen, who was killed alongside Americans identified as Luke Rutter, 22, from Birkenhead. Rutter is thought to have left his home in April last year in order to travel to Syria, and enlisted with the People’s Protection Units, otherwise known as YPG, the following month. But rather than tell his family where he was going, Rutter instead told them he was going to join the French Foreign Legion.
In earlier interviews, both Americans spoke about their desire to defeat ISIS and forge ‘a more secure world’.
Grodt told the camera: ‘To my family, there are way too many of you to speak to individually, just know that I love you all and there’s a lot that goes unsaid. To my daughter – I’m sorry I’m not there and I will be making a longer video to go along with this. Just know that I love you all.’
Meanwhile, Warden added he joined YPG because of the ISIS attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino, Nice and Paris.
Western-backed coalition forces have been fighting alongside Kurdish militias to retake Raqqa since November last year. Having captured the surrounding villages, the coalition announced it was attacking Raqqa itself on June 6, completely cutting it off from the outside world just over two weeks later.
On July 3 the coalition fought its way into the Old City, breaking through a perimeter of ISIS defenses in a major advance. Raqqa, declared by ISIS as the capital of its so-called Caliphate, marks the terror group’s final stronghold in the Middle East following the fall of Mosul this week.