British volunteer Oliver Hall killed clearing mines in Raqqa while fighting ISIS terrorists
A man who travelled to Syria to fight Islamic State group has been killed clearing homemade bombs, becoming the seventh Briton to die with Kurdish forces battling the extremists.
Oliver Hall from Portsmouth had been trying to make safe booby traps in the recently liberated city of Raqqa when he was caught in a blast on Saturday.
The 24-year-old had only joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) three months ago and had no previous military experience.
In a video released after his death, he told his friends and family that he had joined the Kurds of his own free will and had known of the “risks and consequences”.
His death underlined the dangers of clearing a city which Islamic State group fighters had rigged with large amounts of explosives, another volunteer said.
A statement from the YPG said Mr Hall, who also used the Kurdish name Canser Zagros, had been taking part in the ongoing “mop up” operation in Raqqa.
It said: “Hundreds of mines and traps have been placed inside almost every building in the city, so the cleaning process is carried out with great care.”
Mr Hall was “martyred as he was trying to defuse a booby trap”.
Macer Gifford, the pseudonym of a Briton fighting alongside the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, said: “Raqqa is absolutely full of mines. At the moment they are going through a process of trying to clear them up.”
Mr Hall is the fourth Briton to die since July. Jac Holmes, a 24-year-old from Bournemouth, died also clearing mines in Raqqa in October.
The other British fatalities have been Mehmet Aksoy, 32, Luke Rutter, 22, Ryan Lock, 20, Dean Evans, 22, and Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said the peril of boobytraps, mines and unexploded munitions from the fighting in Raqqa had seen scores of returning residents hurt. One clinic had treated 49 people with blast injuries in the past 10 days.
Craig Kenzie, leader of the charity’s Raqqa emergency team, said: “Some have found their homes in ruins, others have found dead bodies and explosives in their houses, gardens and streets.
“Everyone fears setting off booby traps when entering buildings or stepping on something that may explode.”
He went on: “From what we see, the fighting that took place here was extremely intense. There are all kinds of explosive devices amongst the rubble. The fighting may have stopped, but people are still getting wounded.”