A Colorado man fighting alongside Kurdish militia forces against ISIS was killed last week, his family confirmed to CNN.
Jordan MacTaggart, 22, was killed in the early morning hours of August 3 during a battle inside the Syrian city of Manbij, which had been the focus of intense fighting.
He was in battle alongside a militia called the YPG, also known as the People’s Protection Unit, and this was his second trip to Syria with the group.
“Our son made a clear-minded, well-researched decision to travel to Syria and join forces with the YPG – a Kurdish militia made up of male and female civilians. All volunteers organized and determined to fight the evil that is ISIS,” his parents and sister said in a statement to CNN.
The parents said they hope people will understand about “the women and children he helped abroad… and we are so proud. We supported his joining of the YPG and fighting against ISIS.”
“Jordan admired the Kurds from afar and grew to love them as a people and eventually his comrades in arms. Their cause became his. Without regret or remorse he was in Syria to do his best to help them,” the family said in its statement. “We love him unconditionally. We support him completely and our sincerest wish is that no one turns a blind eye to this ongoing Kurdish revolution.”
The militia group informed the family about the death. It said in a statement he was helping to free many civilians from areas occupied by ISIS. A group of YPG fighters came under attack by ISIS. MacTaggart was among a group trying to free them when he was hit by enemy fire.
Between his two trips, MacTaggart had been in Syria for over a year fighting ISIS, his father, Robert, told CNN. He returned home last year after he was wounded and then he left the US again in January to head back to Syria. That was the last time his family saw him, and his father said “this time I had the feeling Jordan wasn’t coming back until they obliterated ISIS”
“We have been honored by Jordan’s participation in our cause that is built on our fundamental desire for freedom. Injustice to human beings in any corner of the world may very well turn into a threat against all of us. For that, a great responsibility lies ahead of us against threats to the future of our children,” the group said in a statement.
MacTaggart told the Boulder Weekly last December on a trip home that he had researched the group and that it had many of the same values as he did.
“I’ve always wanted to do something, and this felt like something I could do for once. When I found out they were taking foreign volunteers … I looked into it and saved up the money and went on my way about it.”
MacTaggart is the second Colorado man who has died fighting alongside the YPG. Levi Jack Shirley was killed last month.
For its part the State Department said it has no information to offer on MacTaggart’s death. The State Department has previously urged American citizens not to travel to Syria to volunteer with such militias with spokesman John Kirby last month saying he would “strongly discourage … private US citizens from traveling to Syria to take part in the conflict.”