The mother of the first British volunteer to die fighting against Daesh in Syria has told how “proud” she is of her “brave and gracious” son.
Ex royal marine Konstandinos Erik Scurfield joined the YPG Kurdish group and fought as a tank gunner in Rojava province in the west of the country.
His mother Vasiliki Scurfield said his decision to go to Syria had been a brave one.
Konstandinos was a “gracious” man responding “to a world in pain”, she told an audience at the Limmud conference this week.
“He was being very true to himself in a way that I can only help but feel was very brave.
“I would never say to someone go and fight - how could I suggest they do what my son did to me, but I think he was brave.”
Konstandinos died from shrapnel wounds after his tank was hit.
“I felt relief that he wasn’t caught by Daesh,” said a tearful Mrs Scurfield.
In conversation with Gillian Merron, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, in front of the Limmud audience,, she described her feelings of frustration at what she believed was a lack of support from the UK government for the Kurds fighting Daesh in Syria.
“The values of Britain verses extremism is being fought in someone else’s backyard.
“When it is our kids fighting we can’t sit and say nothing.
“I decided to speak out when my son went to fight because I didn’t want stories that were not the truth to go around about him.
“Since his death I’ve learned quite a lot about the Kurdish people and how they have reduced Daesh’s forces, but no one is helping them.”
She said: “I believe my son left to fight with them because they were making a difference.
“He was horrified by what he saw was being done by Daesh - the beheadings, rapes of the Yazidi women, and that the British army was not doing anything to help.”
But she said she was wary of talking to parents of young people who had gone off to fight for Daesh.
“In a way we are linked but I feel sorry for them because they can’t say what I can about my son. They can’t say they are proud.”
She said she had been targeted by extremists when news about her son broke in the media.
But she had also received support from her local community in Barnsley, Yorkshire.
She said: “Our local football team paid tribute by stopping a match 25 minutes in for a round of applause. Konstandinos was 25 years old.
“My MP Dan Jarvis was amazing. He raised the issue for me in Parliament and was very supportive after my son’s death.
“Other people who have had loved ones in other countries do the same thing as my son have been treated like criminals.”