Fight­ers pay trib­ute to Aussie’s courage

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - NEIL DOOR­LEY

ASH­LEY Dy­ball has vowed to use a sawn- off shot­gun Reece Hard­ing took from an “ISIS scum­bag” to avenge the death of his fel­low Queens­lan­der in Syria.

Mr Dy­ball, from Bris­bane, has be­come an anti- ISIS ( also know as IS) poster boy for the Kur­dish mil­i­tants fight­ing Is­lamic State af­ter join­ing the YPG group in May, just days af­ter Mr Hard­ing.

They were mem­bers of the so- called Sabotage bat­tal­ion, com­pris­ing for­eign fight­ers known as the Lions of Ro­java.

In a trib­ute to Mr Hard­ing posted on Face­book yesterday, the group said: “Ev­ery­one in his unit praised him for his courage and said he was hard to match.

“A man who stood up for his be­liefs and there­fore joined the fight with the brave war­riors of the YPG ( Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units).”

Ac­cord­ing to the post, Mr Dy­ball – who along with Mr Hard­ing had a $ 150,000 IS bounty on his head – had armed him­self with Mr Hard­ing’s weapon.

“I have his sawn- off shot­gun and will use it to avenge him,’’ Mr Dy­ball said, adding that Mr Hard­ing had taken the firearm from “an ISIS scum­bag he fought days be­fore”.

“Rest in peace my brother. Was a hon­our to be by your side ev­ery step of the way, your shot­gun will be put to use I prom­ise you,’’ Mr Dy­ball said.

While the Lions of Ro­java re­fused to re­veal where Mr Dy­ball had been de­ployed since join­ing the YPG on May 8, it’s un­der­stood the unit had been fight­ing near Syria’s north­east­ern province of Ha- sakah. Since Is­lamic State launched its of­fen­sive on the area – which borders Tur­key – on June 25, at least 70 gov­ern­ment sol­diers and 48 IS fight­ers have been killed and more than 100,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed.

Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units re­cently foiled an IS sui- cide car bomb at­tack and cap­tured three vil­lages from Is­lamic State fight­ers.

Mr Dy­ball, 23, yesterday posted un­der his Face­book alias Mitchell Scott a photo of what ap­pears to be smoke ris­ing from a re­cent air strike with: “When Obama comes to play”.

One of his grow­ing band of fol­low­ers posted: “Stay safe man and give them hell!”, while another said: “In­sane bro”.

But ter­ror­ism ex­pert Pro­fes­sor Greg Bar­ton from Mel­bourne’s Monash Univer­sity warned Mr Dy­ball – who also posted hor­rific im­ages from a sup­posed ISIS mas­sacre – against shar­ing up­dates on so­cial media.

“ISIS is very tech- savvy and peo­ple can be easily tracked down from some­thing that might be in the back­ground ( of a photo),’’ Pro­fes­sor Bar­ton said.

“My ad­vice to him would be to keep his head down and keep a low pro­file.”

He urged young Aus­tralians to con­sider un­der­tak­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid work rather than tak­ing up arms in the Mid­dle East.

Reece Hard­ing, who died fight­ing Is­lamic State in Syria.

Ash­ley Dy­ball has be­come the poster boy for the for­eign fighter group Lions of Ro­java.

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