2 Americans Who Volunteered to Fight Islamic State are in Limbo by Molly Hennessy-Fiske – Associated Press
Former Marine Kevin Howard claimed scores of kills as a sniper volunteering this year with a militia fighting Islamic State in Syria.
He wanted to help people, Howard had said this summer, especially Christians who were being persecuted for their faith just as they had been in areas where he had fought with the Marines in Iraq.
But this fall, Howard and a fellow American volunteer, Taylor Hudson, grew disillusioned with the U.S.-backed militia and decided it was time to return home. But that decision launched both men on a still unfolding journey that highlights the odd nature of their role as soldiers fighting for a cause, not a country.
Earlier this month, Howard, 28, from San Francisco, disappeared after crossing the border in Iraq. His friend Hudson then had to decide: Stay in Syria or go to Iraq in hopes of finding his missing comrade?
“I don’t know what my situation is going to be once I cross the border” into Iraq, Hudson said last week from a home where he was staying with friends in Syria.
Americans have a history of volunteering to fight overseas, but the war in Syria presents distinct problems and challenges. The U.S. State Department advises against volunteering to fight with U.S.-allied Kurdish and Syrian militias, and the U.S. is under no obligation to help such fighters if they get in trouble. But if the volunteers manage to return to the U.S., they face no legal consequences.
Of the several hundred such volunteers who have served since the Syrian civil war began six years ago, some were killed…