British film-maker killed by Isis militants in Syria

Mehmet Aksoy, 32, from London, was working as a press officer for Kurdish forces in Raqqa when the military base was attacked

28 September 2017, 10:28am
Mehmet Aksoy was working as a press officer, for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) when military base was hit by a surprise attack
Mehmet Aksoy was working as a press officer, for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) when military base was hit by a surprise attack
A British film-maker was killed while working alongside Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, friends and Kurdish activists have said.

Mehmet Aksoy, 32, from London, was working as a press officer for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) when the military base in which he was stationed was hit by a surprise attack on Tuesday morning.

Aksoy, a Turkish Kurd, moved to Britain with his family 22 years ago and is believed to be the fifth British citizen to have been killed while volunteering with the US-led militia, spearheading the battle against Isis.

Around 300 British Kurds, as well as Aksoy’s parents, held a twilight vigil at the Kurdish Community centre in north London.

“Mehmet never fought – that was never his plan,” said friend Aladdin Sinayic, 38, also from London.

“He told me just before he left that there are better ways he could fight Isis than with a gun. He said there are many great fighters offering their lives to defeat Isis but they are not visible to the world. He wanted to tell their stories and show the world what the Kurds are doing in Syria.”

According to reports, Aksoy travelled to Syria on 22 July, without informing his parents. He spent the following three months filming the battle of Raqqa and publishing his material and findings on social media and other sites. His job also included liaising with journalists in Britain and around the world, covering the conflict.

He was described by friends as a “passionate” and “loving” man, who devoted his life to supporting the Kurdish struggle for greater rights in the Middle East.

“He had wanted to go for a long time but stayed at home for the sake of his mother,” said Sinayic.

“He talked to her a lot about how he dreamed of moving to Kurdistan and I think she was scared for him but understood why he had to go. She told me today that she has lost her best friend.”

It is understood that Aksoy was standing outside the Kurdish militia’s media centre when a small group of jihadis drove up to the base, believed to be some 20km from the frontline at Raqqa, in pickup trucks and shot five guards at the main gate.

They then drove inside the compound and opened fire, killing Aksoy where he stood, as well as a female Kurdish journalist beside him. YPG fighters fought back, killing all the attackers.

 “The Kurdish movement was everything to him,” said Aksoy’s friend Can Atas, 29, from London. “I spoke to him a few weeks after he arrived in Syria and he told me he didn’t think he had ever felt happier. He was so excited about his idea to make a documentary about democratic confederalism and the socialist-feminist revolution that’s happening there. He said he had so many plans. I’ve lost my best friend, but the Kurds have lost a great brain.”

An FCO spokesperson said: “The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria. As all UK consular services are suspended in Syria, it is extremely difficult to confirm the whereabouts and status of British nationals in the country.”