John Gallagher, a former Canadian soldier who was in Syria fighting against ISIS, has been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Before deciding to travel to Iraq and then Syria to help fight ISIS, Gallagher reportedly ran for Toronto city council, in 2010. When campaigning, the young Canadian spoke about his military background.
“I was a member of the Canadian forces for three years. And so, it gives me a sense of responsibility,” John Gallagher was quoted. He spoke about how he believed that he was a person who could get things done.
Gallagher reportedly first traveled to Iraq in early 2015 and then to Syria.
Gallagher was reportedly killed when an ISIS extremist detonated a suicide vest within close proximity to the Canadian.
Valerie Carder, John Gallagher’s mother, spoke about missing her son’s “conversation and smile” with the CBC. Gallagher was reported to feel a “strong responsibility” that he belonged in Syria, fighting ISIS.
Carder was reportedly informed of the passing of her son by a journalist who put her in touch with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The organization was able to provide identifying information from documents her son was carrying.
An American who fought alongside Gallagher with Kurdish forces in Syria named Matthew Hughes was quoted about their time together.
“We were there from from the moment I arrived in Iraq all the way into Syria. I’d say out of anyone there, all the Western volunteers — and I met at least 50 of them — John was the only one who stayed with me the entire time.”
Hughes described Gallagher as being more of a thinker than a fighter, and of having a strong interest in politics. The American plans to return to Syria as a way of honoring Gallagher’s death.
The professor described Gallagher as being a “brilliant” student. After traveling to Iraq early in 2015, Gallagher was said to have crossed into Syria in July. Rahnema reportedly received an e-mail from Gallagher in September and then didn’t hear from him again.
In the Canadian military, John Gallagher was reported to have served with the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as an infantryman.
Crystal Schick, a photographer, was reported to have spent time with Gallagher during the summer months.
“He was easy to be around,” Schick was quoted about Gallagher. “He was very articulate and passionate. He was a nice guy. I enjoyed his company. He really believed in the reason he was there.”
The United States has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS targets since September of 2014, reportedly killing 12,000 militants. However, despite these efforts, ISIS is reported to not have been significantly weakened. The United States announced in October that up to 50 special forces troops will be sent to fight alongside Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.
While John Gallagher had the support of his family and friends, the Canadian military specifically advises against Canadians traveling to overseas destinations to take part in fighting against ISIS or any other groups. The military encourages those who have an interest in helping to consider joining the Canadian military.
[Feature Screenshot via CBC News/YouTube]