Jac Holmes: Funeral for British fighter killed in Syria

By Emma Vardy
BBC News

image captionJac Holmes's coffin was carried by members of the Kurdish community, and decorated with flowers in the colours of the YPG

Fighters from around the world who battled the Islamic State (IS) group gathered in Dorset for the funeral of a 24-year-old Briton killed in Syria.

Former IT consultant Jac Holmes first left his home to join Kurdish forces in 2015. He died in Raqqa in October.

The ceremony in Wimborne was also attended by hundreds of Kurdish people who had travelled in minibuses from across the UK to pay their respects.

His mother, Angie Blannin, had previously described her son as a hero.

media captionAngie Blannin remembers her son Jac Holmes who died fighting with the YPG in Syria

Mr Holmes, who was from Bournemouth and had no prior military training, became a sniper with Kurdish militia the YPG and was one of the longest-serving foreign volunteers in the fight against IS.

His coffin was carried into the service by members of the Kurdish community, and dressed with flowers in the colours of the YPG.

There was standing room only as speeches and tributes were made, including an address by the YPG's general commander Nuri Mahmud.

Speaking over Skype from Syria, he said: "If Jac Holmes and his comrades did not fight against IS to defeat them, eventually IS would have the power to attack elsewhere in the world."

At the scene: Emma Vardy, BBC News

Former YPG fighters were reunited in a remarkable gathering at a Dorset community centre.

Those from the US, Europe and even Australia made the journey. Many had not seen each other since being in combat in Syria.

They shared war stories and fond memories of Jac Holmes.

Many have faced arrest and police investigation but, in their eyes, their commitment to the Kurdish cause outweighs the risks.

Following the service, his coffin was taken to Poole Crematorium where friends and family paid their final respects.

Spanish fighter Arges Artiaga, who fought alongside Mr Holmes and was with him when he died, told the BBC: "I had to say goodbye to my friend, my brother."

Hanna Bohman, a fighter from Canada, added: "I flew over because Jac was one of the original volunteers to join the YPG. I had to come."

A memorial ceremony for Mr Holmes and fellow Briton Oliver Hall, of Gosport in Hampshire, had previously been held in Syria.

Both of their bodies were repatriated in January.

media captionJac Holmes told the BBC why he went to fight IS, in an interview recorded weeks before he was killed

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