Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Briton's body handed over to family

The body of an ex-Royal Marine who was the first Briton to be killed while fighting against Islamic State (IS) has been handed over to his family, it was reported.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, from Barnsley, was shot dead on March 2 while fighting in Syria alongside Kurdish forces in the frontline village of Tel Khuzela.

His body was given to his father and uncle in a ceremony on the Syria-Iraq border involving hundreds of Syrian Kurds, the BBC said.

Mr Scurfield's father, Chris, told the BBC the ceremony was "overwhelming" and "very special and very comforting" to his family.

His coffin was draped with the Kurdish and Union Flags and hundreds of people, including Kurdish fighters in the region, watched as it was loaded onto an ambulance to be taken to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Foreign Office refused to comment on when his body might be repatriated.

Mr Scurfield, who was an expert in battlefield medicine, is believed to have travelled to Syria three or four months ago hoping to provide medical and humanitarian support.

He was said to have been "horrified by the atrocities being carried out by IS".

His family, including archaeologist parents Chris and Vicci and his student sister Georgianna, said they were heartbroken but proud of him.

In a statement following his death they said: " His flame might have burned briefly but it burned brightly with love, courage, conviction and honour and we are very proud of him."

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

Last month, a 19-year-old serving British soldier was returned to his unit after joining the Kurdish peshmerga.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Scurfield told the BBC he had been "blown away" by the honourable treatment his son received.

He said: "We are very impressed and so grateful for the Kurds looking after him, his body. We just look forward to taking him home now."

Mr Scurfield said he was "shocked" to discover his son had decided to fight alongside the Kurds, but his care and devotion in choosing their cause came as no surprise.

He said: "It was out of the blue. We only got to know before Christmas so we had a Christmas without him, so that helped us prepare. We kind of knew that he wasn't coming back but you always hope for the best. He was a big target, too big."

Despite saying he could never encourage anyone else to follow in his son's footsteps, he said: "You have got to go out and reach for your goals in life, and he certainly did that."

Mr Scurfield said he wished the Kurds every success in their fight against the "evil" they are up against, adding: "They will win this, the world has got to let them win it."


From Belfast Telegraph