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Syria death Briton shot himself to avoid becoming IS hostage

A British man who died fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria killed himself to avoid being taken hostage by Islamic State militants.

Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, died in an offensive by anti-IS forces in a bid to retake the northern city of Raaqa, considered to be the terrorist group's de facto capital.

Former chef Mr Lock, who had no previous military experience, joined Kurdish militia after telling his family he was going on holiday to Turkey in August.

The People's Defence Units (YPG), a Kurdish military force, told Mr Lock's family he died along with other fighters last December 21. Now it has emerged he turned the gun on himself to avoid falling captive to IS and being held as a propaganda tool.

Mr Lock's father, Jon Plater, confirmed BBC reports that it appeared he committed suicide to avoid falling captive to IS. He told the Press Association: "We did know. It is true - 100%."

YPG general command member Mihyedin Xirki described Mr Lock - who used the nom de guerre Berxwedan Givara - as a "martyr" who died "putting up a brave fight".

Xirki said in a statement: "We bless the resistance of British martyr Berxwedan Givara for the families of all martyrs and the British people."

A military ceremony attended by dozens of pro-Kurdish fighters, representatives from political parties and NGOs was held in Rojava on Tuesday.

Photographs of the ceremony showed a coffin displaying a photograph of Mr Lock, who went to school in Havant, Hampshire, and a Union flag surrounded by armed militia.

A YPG spokesman said the body of Mr Lock was handed over to the British Consulate after they had bade farewell to him, and his body is due to be repatriated to the UK "in the next few days".

Mark Campbell, a Kurdish rights campaigner, said on Facebook: "UK YPG volunteer Ryan Lock's body passed over the border of Rojava to KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) region with military honours today (Tuesday) to begin his journey home to his family and friends for burial in the UK.

"Our thoughts today are very much with his mother, father and whole family at this difficult time and very much hope that the repatriation process in Erbil will be speedy so the family can have Ryan home, as soon as possible, for burial."

In a statement, Mr Plater said: "Since we heard the devastating news of Ryan, it's been pretty tough, especially the difficulties surrounding the repatriation.

"We are grateful to the YPG for bringing him home."

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Syria. Mr Lock is the third British man to die fighting IS with the Kurds in Syria.

Dean Evans, 22, a dairy farmer from Reading, Berkshire, died in the city of Manbij in July last year and former Royal Marine Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, died in the northern village of Tel Khuzela in March 2015.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Our sympathies are with Ryan Lock's family at this very difficult time. We are in contact with them and have provided advice to them on repatriation of his body."

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