Canadian reportedly killed by suicide bomber while fighting ISIL with Kurds in Syria

A Canadian volunteering with Kurdish forces in northern was reportedly killed in a suicide bombing on Wednesday, and an Ontario mother said she was trying to verify it was her son, a Canadian Forces veteran.

The mother of said she had received messages of condolence from the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the Kurdish paramilitary force that her son had been fighting alongside since arriving in Syria in early July.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also provided her with details from a passport that matched her son’s, she said. Canadian consular officials were “gathering additional information,” said Foreign Affairs spokesman Nicolas Doire.

A dozen or so Canadians have volunteered to fight alongside Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. But this would be the first death of a Canadian volunteer fighter. He was reportedly killed near Al-Hasakeh.

“I’m prepared to give my life in the cause of averting the disaster we are stumbling towards as a civilization,” Gallagher, a veteran of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, wrote in an essay before he left for Iraq on April 30. His mother shared it with the National Post.

“With some fortitude and guts, we can purge the sickness that’s poisoning our society, and come together to defeat this ultimate evil. I’ve been fighting this battle in one way or another for my entire life. I hope for success.

“The rest is in the hands of the gods.”

Born in Toronto, Gallagher moved to Dufferin County near Shelburne and lived there until he was 16. The family then moved to Chatham-Kent. He had a master’s degree in political science and had been accepted into a PhD program, his mother said.

But six months ago, he sold his car and made his way to northern Iraq. He spent May and June with the Iraqi peshmerga fighters before crossing the Tigris River to Syria to join the YPG. “I’m in Syria. Gnarly,” he wrote on July 3.

In addition to sympathizing with the Kurds, he wrote that he was concerned about the rise of theocracy. He complained that pacifists and “the appeasement left” were too reluctant to offend, and accused them of “apologism for barbarity.”

“The war that is ongoing in the Middle East is a war against theocracy,” he wrote in the essay, titled Why the War in Kurdistan Matters. “In many ways it is a civil war, and I believe more depends on its outcome than anyone in power is prepared to face.”

When he had access to the Internet, Gallagher used Facebook to keep his friends and family up to date about what he was doing, sometimes posting photos of himself in camouflage and writing humorously about his experiences.

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Following reports that ISIL was offering a $150,000 bounty for Western volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces, he joked that he was “deeply upset by this news. I am worth at least $200,000.”

“Hey everyone! Still very much alive,” he wrote on August 4. “If you ever have the chance, I strongly recommend fighting terrorists as a great way to get yourself out of your various existential funks. … Maybe I won’t come back. I kind of like it here.”

His final post was last Friday, when he uploaded a photo of himself sitting on what looked like a rooftop, dressed in camouflage and holding a rifle. A pair of binoculars were beside him. “Striking a pose,” the caption read.

“We have the ability to eradicate jihadism in our lifetime,” he wrote in his essay. “Only by destroying ISIS without mercy can we discredit the idea, and force the would-be jihadis and fellow-travelers to give up their insane dreams of a new Mecca and join the modern .”

National Post

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