First pictures of Barnsley man killed fighting ISIS

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This is the Barnsley man killed while fighting against Islamic State militants.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, aged 25, a former Royal Marine, from Royston, was fighting as a volunteer in Syria when he came under attack near the town of Qamishli, on the border with Turkey, on Monday.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield

He was named by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which he had joined as a volunteer fighter.

It is understood he was killed by mortar fire in an area where ISIS forces have been attacking Kurdish and Christian communities.

A YPG source said: “He voluntarily joined the YPG. He was killed while heroically resisting close to Qamishli.

“His family has been told.”

His parents - dad Christopher, an archaeologist and mum Vasiliki - live in a detached farmhouse in Royston, where they are waiting for official confirmation of the death from British authorities.

Mrs Scurfield said: “We are reeling. We just want to get our heads round everything.”

The volunteer fighter’s sister, Georgianna, said: “I’ve spoken to my dad. We don’t really know anything about it at the moment, so I’d rather not say anything right now.”

Kostandinos, known as Kosta, attended Royston High School and was a former member of 45 Commando.

He reportedly left the elite regiment just months ago and went to the Middle East after befriending fighters in the region on Facebook.

He is believed to have travelled to Syria hoping to provide medical and humanitarian support.

Mr Scurfield, the first Briton to be killed while fighting Islamic State in Syria, was an expert in battlefield medicine.

In his younger days he was listed on an internet casting site for young actors, where his credits include appearances in Hollyoaks and Grange Hill, both in 2007.

He joined the at the age of 21, after graduating in drama but struggling to find regular work as an actor.

Next-door neighbour Mary-Jane Hemmings said: ‘I would often talk to Kosta. He went to university to study drama and had hopes of being an actor.

“He graduated and got a couple of bits of work in TV, then realised he needed a job. It was then that he considered the forces and became a Marine when he was around 21.

“He had a wonderful personality, a friendly person, and a handsome young man. It does not surprise me he went to fight against ISIS.

“He was strong-willed and always seemed conscientious in whatever he did, and he enjoyed his job. He knew what he was about and I’m sure he knew what he was doing when he signed up to go to Syria.”

Neighbour David Miller said: “It’s tragic.

“The children moved away and I’m not sure how Erik got involved in Syria but it would be in keeping with their sense of duty and honour.

“They are good British people and it would make sense that he would go all the way to Syria to fight against ISIS.”

Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “He went to school with my grandson. I didn’t know him that well, but he seemed like a nice lad.

“His mum is Greek and he has dual nationality. From what I understand he went over to Greece and was called up for National Service.

“I thought he was still in the Royal Marines, so I’ve not idea how he got involved in Syria.

“It’s just so awful, I can’t believe what has happened.”

Mark Campbell, a pro-Kurdish rights activist, said broke the news of Mr Scurfield’s death to his family in a telephone call.

“To be honest it was a harrowing phone call,” he said.

“There were three questions really his mother wanted to know immediately. She wanted to know if there’s a body - and there is. She wanted to know when he died and she wanted to know if he died in combat - which he had.

“It was so incredibly difficult, it was very, very emotional, she was literally in tears the whole conversation.

“I really just wanted to inform her, to give her a message from the YPG that they have said they would love to bury Konstandinos as one of their comrades in arms, as a hero, but equally they also want to be guided by the family and will respect the wishes of the family.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Syria.

“The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria, where all UK consular services are suspended.

“As we do not have any representation in Syria, it is extremely difficult to get any confirmation of deaths or injuries and our options for supporting British nationals there are extremely limited.”

While high numbers of foreigners are known to have joined IS, around 100 Westerners - including several Britons - are thought to have fought alongside the Kurds.

Photographs circulating on social media show a smiling Mr Scurfield kneeling in the ruins of a Syrian town during a Kurdish offensive to push ISIS from the surrounding area.

Jordan Matson, reportedly a former US soldier fighting with the Kurds, posted on Facebook: “Words cannot describe how honoured I have been to fight at your side.

“We were together from his first day here and you couldn’t ask for a more disciplined warrior.

“Kosta as we call him was from the United Kingdom and was born a Greek citizen. He served both in the Greek army and as a British Royal Marine commando up until he came here.

“Kosta volunteered for every attack and guard duty opportunity. He wanted nothing more than to bring the fight to the enemy.

“I’m going to carry on your legacy brother, I will never forget you. I love you man.

“Save me a place up there big guy.”

He attached a picture which appears to show several foreign fighters and Kurds, with Mr Scurfield kneeling in the foreground, wearing military fatigues and holding an assault rifle.

Mr Scurfield’s Facebook page includes a post repeating the last words of Sophie Scholl, the anti-Nazi German killed in 1943, who said: “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.”

Friend Steve Dugas described Mr Scurfield as a ‘brave soldier’.

He said he left the UK to try to help protect Kurdish civilians from occupying ISIS forces in December.

“He took it upon himself to help innocent people when his own government refused to when you look into the eyes of the children and you can’t help to wonder what they think and how could any good person or country just sit back and let them and their families be slaughtered,” he said.

“Kosta was a brave Chappie god rest his soul.”

John Foxx, an American who fought alongside Mr Scurfield for the YPG, paid tribute to him on Facebook.

“Words cannot describe how I feel right now. I have lost family members, close friends, buddies in the Corps but nothing has hurt as much as losing one of my Chappy brothers from the YPG,” he said.

“Hands down one of the greatest people I have ever met in my life. I cannot even begin to describe the character of this man. Every day since the moment I was separated from my brothers I have be dreading the news I knew was going to come eventually and it finally caught up to me. You will be avenged my brother.”

* Read more: Video: Volunteer fighter’s parents had contacted Barnsley MP over concerns for his safety

Family of Barnsley man killed fighting ISIS pay tribute to their son