First British Foreign Fighter Faces Charges in UK Court
AP Photo/ Tim Ireland, FileEurope20:14 14.02.2018Get short URL
A British man who traveled to Syria to fight against the Daesh terrorist group faced terrorism charges February 14 in a Westminster Magistrates Court in London.
Former British soldier, Jim Matthews, aged 43 from Bristol in the south of England, is alleged to have taken up arms alongside members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YGP) which has been a major actor in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
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Some observers online have criticized the fact that Mr. Matthews is being charged despite his having gone to Syria to fight against Daesh terrorists which the British Government is fighting as part of the US-led coalition.
The case represents the first instance of a returned fighter from Syria being brought to trial for their actions. Foreign fighters from many Western countries have ventured to Syria throughout the course of the conflict to fight on the side of armed rebel groups as well as in support of armed Kurdish units that have primarily fought against ISIS.
The YPG has stood apart from both the Syrian Government and the various armed rebel militias but has periodically allied and clashed with both sides in the increasingly chaotic war. It has since declared a self-governing region of “Rojava” or “Western Kurdistan” in the north of Syria, which has since led to military incursions by the Turkish army which fears any success for Kurdish national movements in the region due to its own large Kurdish population.