A former British soldier is arrested in Turkey for supporting US/UK backed anti-terrorist forces

British ex-soldiers fighting with YPG
Tom Coburg

Joe Robinson (third from left, bottom row) is a former British soldier from Lancashire. He is accused of “membership of a terrorist organisation” after he was arrested while on holiday in Turkey. Why? Because he was a former combat medic with Kurdish-led forces fighting Daesh (Isis/Isil). But those same forces are closely working with US and British military.

Robinson was at the Aegean resort of Didim with his girlfriend Mira Rojkan and her mother when they were arrested by police. His girlfriend, a Leeds University student, and her mother were later released. Robinson was accused of posting pro-Kurdish propaganda on Facebook. It is thought he is also accused of being part of a Kurdish militia.

Joined international brigade

Robinson was particularly upset when Daesh executed British aid worker Alan Henning and by the beach attack at Sousse in Tunisia when 39 British tourists were murdered.

In 2015, Robinson joined the ‘Lions of Rojava’, a Kurdish unit hosting a number of foreign militants based in Rojava (a region in northern Syria with a largely Kurdish population).


Robinson was with the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) at the battle of Sarrin when the town was captured from Daesh. There his unit helped liberate women who had been captured by Daesh as sex-slaves. And Robinson also helped treat locals who had suffered horrific injuries.

Robinson returned to the UK in late 2015, only to be arrested and put on police bail. But the people in his home town of Accrington regard him as a hero.

After the 22 March terror attack in London, Robinson was one of several volunteers who published an open letter as “British fighters of the YPG”, condemning the attack.

Joe Robinson and comrades

(Photo from Robinson’s Facebook page of him and his comrades in Rojava)

US and UK supporting Kurd-led forces

In a news report by al-Jazeera, US Special Forces were seen wearing the emblem of the YPJ (the women’s equivalent of the YPG). It is understood that the US has at least 300 soldiers supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF, which includes the YPG and YPJ, is co-operating with the US in a joint operation to liberate the city of Raqqa from Daesh.

The US is also providing the SDF with equipment, including 120mm mortars, machines guns, ammunition, and light armoured vehicles. Indeed, The Washington Post referred to the YPG as “a major component of US-backed forces [fighting Daesh]”.

And in May it was reported that not just US, but also UK military are providing support to Kurdish-led anti-terrorist forces in Syria and Iraq. An official statement from UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon referred to British military support for the SDF (including YPG and YPJ).

Robinson needs to be released

Robinson’s arrest by a NATO member country may prove to be a huge mistake. Robinson is a former British soldier and anti-terrorist fighter. In Britain, he is seen as a hero.

It is reported that the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office is currently seeking consular assistance for Robinson. He should be released immediately and all charges dropped.

Get Involved!

– Read The Canary‘s previous articles on Rojava and see more international reporting from us at The Canary Global.

– Donate to the Rojava Plan (to support the system of self-government in place in northern Syria).

– See more on British volunteers in Rojava here, here, here, and here.

Support The Canary as we seek to amplify the voices of oppressed people around the world.

Featured image via Kom News

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