Former U.S female soldier to join Peshmerga troops in Kurdistan
A mother-of-three from North Carolina is the latest Westerner to volunteer to fight against the Islamic State in Kurdistan.
Samantha Johnston, 25, from Emerald Island, who previously served in the US Army, is believed to have joined the Kurdish Peshmerga troops, who are battling IS in northern Iraq and Syria.
She said she wanted to fight IS because: "I decided to come and fight because I felt like it was my duty."
The Times reports that pictures of Ms Johnston, a divorced mother of a five yearold and three-year-old twins, carrying a rifle and wearing military fatigues have been circulating on Kurdish news websites.
According to her US Army record Samantha Lois Jay Johnston served from 20082011 as a geospatial engineer.
She told the Daily Caller that she cried "all the way to the airport" and nearly changed her mind about go- ing – but decided if she did not go she would never forgive herself.
"These children here, who are homeless, orphaned; mothers and sisters have been raped and sold, fathers who have been killed, they are suffering, and I knew that I couldn’t just sit and do nothing."
"I couldn’t look my children in the eyes and say, 'I didn’t do anything to help.'"
Ms Johnston told the site her children are in ‘a safe place’.
"To me this has nothing to do with religion," said Jay. "I am a Christian but I’m protecting humanity. No matter the race or religion."
She told the website that she joined the Kurdish fighters by seeking them out. She claims she made "the right connections and verified they were reliable."
Ms Johnston says she plans to start a humanitarian organization after her return so she can continue helping the Kurdish community.