US volunteer praised for his humility dies in fight against ISIS in Syria

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William Savage. File photo

ARA News 

KOBANE – William Savage, who joined the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, died in the fight against ISIS last week in the city of Manbij, two days before it was liberated last Friday. He is the sixth foreign volunteer to die in the anti-ISIS campaign for Manbij.

The American fighter, who had left Maryland in the USA to fight ISIS extremists in Syria and Iraq, died on 10 August, during the final days of the campaign to capture the city of Manbij–a key jihadi border pocket.

Before joining the YPG in 2015, Savage also fought ISIS in northern Iraq alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. 

The American YPG fighter took part in the attempt to rescue thousands of civilians from ISIS, but was heavily injured. Despite attempts to save him, Savage died from his injuries, the YPG said. 

“We as the People’s Protection Units offer our condolences to the families of martyrs, and all the people of Rojava and the United States,” the YPG leadership said in a statement on Wednesday.

Speaking to ARA News, Reginald O. Savage, William’s father, said that his son joined the war to make a difference.

“Will has a protective instinct and really hated what he saw going on with ISIS and the Kurds,” the father said. “He also needed to be actively courageous and fighting for an important cause and making a real difference.” 

“He knew what he wanted to be and made himself into it. He found something he could die for and died for it, but at the same time realized who he was and came to life,” William’s father told ARA News.

Ryan Dale, one of William’s best friends in Maryland, said that Savage was one of the most humble people he knew.

“He would give the shirt off his back to a stranger. I’ve know him for ten years, and he was one of my closest friends,” Dale told ARA News.

“A completely selfless man. He loved helping people, and was great at every thing he did, but very humble. I learned a lot from him. He loved adventure, and any kind of challenge. He would run 10 miles every day,” Dale added.

“Growing up he always wanted to join the US military, but was turned down. He felt like he needed to do something bigger than himself because he saw the atrocities that Daesh [ISIS] was committing. I remember he saw a video of them killing students, and that what really fired him up. He wanted to help bring peace. The ripple he made on this world will never fade,” he said.

Joe Ackerman, a former YPG fighter, told ARA News that words couldn’t express his sadness. “We remained close friends all the way through and were neighbours when we went to different units. He was one of the most solid guys I ever met,” he said.

“We shared some great times. Some hairy times and of course very sad times . I’ll miss you Amed [William Savage’s nickname],” he added. 

British YPG volunteer Macer Gifford wrote on Facebook that the Savage was loved by all.

“He was in the all foreigner tabur – 223 – and based near the Tactical Medical Unit. I saw him regularly over the past 7 months but I didn’t fight alongside him until we got to Manbij,” he wrote.

“There is nobody that has a bad word to say about Will. He was universally loved and everyone has a wonderful story to say about him. I heard last week that he had died in combat. I didn’t want to believe it, he was the last and 6th International Volunteer to die in Manbij. He was a legend that gave everything for the liberty of Rojava,” Gifford added.

Speaking to ARA News, Kurdish leader Salih Muslim said that foreign volunteers join the YPG forces to protect humanitarian values, and to fight ISIS extremists, “who are a danger to all humanity,” he said.

“The Kurds are very happy with these foreign fighters. They do not feel alone, in the past the Kurds only had mountains, but now we have Americans, British, French and Germans among others, and many of them were martyred in the fight against ISIS terror group,” he added.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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