Edmonton

Brandon Glossop joins Lions of Rojava to fight against ISIS

A former soldier from Edmonton has joined a small but dedicated group of western fighters who’ve gone overseas to do battle with ISIS in northern Iraq.

Military expert says individual efforts could hurt larger military involvement

Edmonton veteran Brandon Glossop, 26, has joined a squad called the Lions of Rojava, which is connected the Kurdish resistance. (Facebook)

A former soldier from Edmonton has joined a small but dedicated group of western fighters who’ve gone overseas to do battle with ISIS in northern Iraq.

Friends say Brandon Glossop, 26, was inspired to join the fight after two Canadian soldiers were killed in separate attacks last October in Ottawa and Quebec.

Glossop has joined a squad called the Lions of Rojava, which is connected with the Kurdish resistance.

But experts say Glossop and other foreign fighters may not be entirely welcome.

“Soldiers know that you don’t just go over as a volunteer and join a professional unit,” Scott Taylor, editor of Esprit de Corps magazine, told CBC News.

Esprit de Corps magazine editor Scott Taylor (left), seen here in 2010 with Lt.-Gen Andrew Leslie, said individual foreign fighters may complicate larger military action overseas. (Esprit de Corps)
“If you’re going go over to to fight, they may end up becoming a somewhat cohesive unit, but with the fact that they're joining Peshmerga Kurdish forces...even if you’re a really skilled and experienced solider, you’re not part of the team. That’s something that you make them a bit of a liability.”

The Kurdish soldiers don’t really want foreigners for that reason, Taylor said.

“He may see this as a noble gesture. He is going off to fight something which we’ve been told is evil incarnate. And they’ve done some incredibly atrocious things. But there are units in place that are fighting them.”

Solo efforts could hurt larger efforts, expert says

Fighters who want to join the battle against ISIS have much in common with the men and women from Canada and the United States who went overseas in the 1930s to fight in the Spanish civil war, as novelist Ernest Hemingway did.

But Taylor said Canadian forces are already part of an air alliance that is bombing ISIS targets, and helping to train local forces on the ground.

“So, going in there,” Taylor said, “just thinking that they’re going to add a rifle to the firing line, I think there’s already enough people in northern Iraq and in Syria who know how to fire a Kalishnikov.”

“They’re really not adding that much to the equation,” he said. “Anyone who knows a battlefront, the last thing you need is freelancers over there who aren’t beholden to any particular chain of command.”

Gloosop's family issued a statement this week.

"Valerie and I would like to express how very proud we are of our son Brandon, who has made the choice to go to Iraq as an independent volunteer to join with the Kurdish People in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL).

"As parents, it is difficult to describe our emotions but we support and honour Brandon’s intense desire to uphold our Canadian values and freedom as he did when he was with PPCLI as a Corporal and especially when he went on his tour of duty to Afghanistan.

"We wish to thank everyone who is supporting Brandon. This means a great deal to us."

Defence Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement earlier this week that Canadians who want to help in the fight should instead join the Canadian Armed Forces.

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