20:59 GMT05 July 2020
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    A British filmmaker has been killed in an ambush by Daesh fighters while working alongside Kurdish forces battling in Syria.

    Daesh fighters have killed a British filmmaker in a surprise attack on a Kurdish forces military camp close to the Syrian city of Raqqa.

    Mehmet Aksoy had been working as a press officer for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) when the base in which he was stationed was ambushed on Tuesday, September 26.

    Aksoy, 32, a Turkish Kurd, had been standing outside the media center when a small group of jihadis staged a surprise attack on the compound, thought to be 20 kilometers from the front-line at Raqqa.

    Driving pick-ups, the Daesh fighters killed five guards at the main gate before entering the compound where they continued to open fire. It is understood Aksoy and a female Kurdish journalist died in a hail of bullets.  

    The YPG fighters eventually fought back, killing all the attackers.

    His death is thought to bring the total of British citizens killed to five while volunteering with the US-led militia spearheading the battle against Daesh in Syria.

    "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," a British Foreign Office spokesperson said.

    Making 'Photo Stories' to Inform

    It is understood Aksoy, born in Malatya eastern Turkey, but who moved to Britain with his family at the age of 10, had traveled to Syria in June without telling his parents.

    He gained a masters degree in filmmaking at Goldsmith's, University of London, and wanted to make a documentary film on the battle for Raqqa. His job was also to liaise with journalists in Britain and around the world covering the conflict. 

    Aksoy founded and edited a news website called Kurdish Questions, while working also on social media and international news outlets raising awareness on the latest developments in the war-torn zone.

    In a video posted online hours after his death, he described his work there, saying: "The battle against [Daesh], we make photo stories, we tell the stories of the fighters and the liberation of civilians.

    "The press officer has to inform the public about the war, about the struggle that is going on here, about the humanitarian work."

    London Pays Tribute

    A twilight vigil in his honor was held on Wednesday, September 27, at the Kurdish Community Center in north London attended by his parents along with nearly 300 British Kurds.  

    Tributes have also been paid on social media to Aksoy who went by the nom de guerre "Firaz Dag" in memory of his uncle who was killed in Turkey in the 1990s as a guerrilla fighter with the PKK.

    Aylina Kilic, a Kurdish reporter, wrote on Twitter:

    Haje Keli, a research student in London, wrote on Facebook: "You were one of the most charming and charismatic people I've ever met. When I found out a few weeks ago that you went back to Rojava, I expected to see you back in London for the film festival."

    In another Facebook post, the YPG described him as a "martyr".

    It added: "Comrade Firaz was carrying out all his work in English in order to introduce the whole world to the truths of the revolution and make the occupation and exploitation of the Kurdish people visible."


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    filmmaker, ambush, social media, death, Syrian conflict, vigil, tribute, The Syrian war, Daesh, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Mehmet Aksoy, Syria, Raqqa, United Kingdom, London
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