Saturday 3 December 2016

Irish soldier (24) who travelled to Syria to fight Isil is arrested in Iraq as he tried to come home

Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30

Joshua Molloy
Joshua Molloy
Joshua Molloy: Laois man travelled to region just a year ago
Joshua Molloy

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is being kept informed on efforts to secure the release of an Irishman arrested after fighting Isis in Syria.

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Joshua Molloy (24), from Ballylinan, Co Laois, travelled to the Middle East region in April 2015 to fight against Isil with forces allied to the Kurds.

Mr Molloy is originally from the village on the Laois-Kildare border

He is believed to have gone to school at Ardscoil na Tríonóide in Athy, Co Kildare. He joined the British Army after leaving school and served with them for around four years. However, he left due to the lack to military action.

He is believed to have fought against Isis with a Kurdish group. Over the past 18 months, hundreds of Westerners have joined Kurdish, Assyrian and other military units in the fight against Isis.

Before leaving to fight, Mr Molloy told his family he was going to Turkey to undertake humanitarian work. His parents are now understood to be concerned about him and want to secure his release.

He was arrested by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last Friday along with two Britons, Joe Akerman and Jac Holmes, as they tried to return home.

Mr Molloy and his friends had allegedly entered Iraq illegally from Syria.

The KRG had closed the Iraq-Syria border.

The group was promised help from the KRG, but when that didn't materialise they allegedly tried to make their way across the border on their own.

According to the 'Sunday Times', the men had been fighting with a Syriac Christian group, the MFS, which is allied to the Kurdish YPG in the fight against Isil.

Release

The Department of Foreign Affairs is working with British counterparts on the case.

Irish diplomats are understood to have decided it would be best if the British Foreign Office worked for the release of all three men.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told the Irish Independent they were engaging with officials on the ground in Iraq to secure the release of the men. Mr Flanagan will keep a watching brief on those attempts.

"We are aware of the case and we stand ready to provide consular assistance. Minister Flanagan is being kept fully informed," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said.

Mark Campbell, a British-based activist for Kurdish rights, said he had spoken to Mr Molloy's parents and that they were very worried.

"Joshua's parents would like to appeal to the KRG to release him and his friends," he told reporters.

He last spoke to the men last Wednesday, when they had arrived at the town of Sinjar, on the Syrian side of the border, waiting to cross.

Pictures on Mr Molloy's Facebook page show him posing in camouflage battle dress with an Isil flag.

The young man was interviewed just after he arrived in Syria for the first time, almost exactly a year ago.

He said he was motivated by disgust of the Islamic State - which is trying to establish a global theocracy.

The KRG was formed in 1992 in northern Iraq, when Kurds in the region democratically elected a parliament.

Irish Independent

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