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Two More Canadian Veterans Are Fighting the Islamic State

Steve Krsnik and Robert Somerville, two former members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, are fighting in Syria now, according to another ex-soldier who made the same trek.
August 25, 2015, 8:55am
Photo via ex-soldier Brandon Glossop

Two more former Canadian Forces soldiers have reportedly picked up arms alongside Kurdish militia to fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) in Syria.

The revelation was made by another veteran who hailed from the same Alberta-based regiment and took a similar gamble last year.

"Steve Krsnik and Robert Somerville, two of my 1VP brothers getting some for themselves in Rojava," Brandon Glossop wrote on his Facebook page. "To date, the only ex-CF regulars I've heard of traveling to Syria to fight ISIS have all been ex [Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry]. This should not come as a surprise to anyone."

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Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry is one of Canada's major regular forces regiments that served extensively in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, a scene of major fighting against the Taliban insurgency.

Glossop says in his social media posting both Krsnik and Somerville are serving in Rojava — an area of northeastern Kurdish Syria — and the territory linked with the Kurdish People's Protection Forces (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). VICE News requested comment from Glossop about his fellow veterans, but has yet to receive a reply.

Related: 'It Was Kind of Like Seeking Redemption': First Western Woman to Fight Against the Islamic State Is Home

Glossop himself was linked with the Lions of Rojava, a unit comprised of foreign fighters drafted into the YPG that counts British, Canadian, European, and American volunteers among its ranks.

Though the YPG is not a designated terrorist organization by the US State Department, the PKK is deemed to be one. It recently came under direct attack by Turkish warplanes in a controversial bombing mission targeting the Kurdish independence group. Before the bombings, both the YPG and PKK have effectively countered IS in several key battle grounds in the Middle East.

A 2013 story in the Toronto Star profiles Krsnik who at the time took advantage of a program helping ex-soldiers train for jobs in the trades. According to the story, Krsnik served in Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan for 18 months and achieved the rank of Master Corporal.

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The picture of Krsnik in the Star appears to match with the same person in one of the photos Glossop posted online.

A Twitter profile and indiegogo campaign is also linked to Krsnik online. On Twitter, Krsnik openly denigrates the actions of IS and its apparent links to the lethal Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and promotes his indiegogo campaign funding a personal training mission in Kurdistan.

"My skill sets are in need and I have made the choice to go and put my boots on the ground In IRAQ!" says Krsnik on his fundraising page, in which he says he served 11 years with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). "I used to train soldiers for the Canadian infantry and helped mentor many Afghan National Army soldiers while deployed In Afghanistan. This is nothing new for me other then going without the support and backing of the Canadian Military."

In the same posting Krsnik says he's chosen to help train Peshmerga forces, because "the Peshmerga have plenty of man power they just lack professional training." The fundraising page asked for $12,000 USD and raised over $600 before closing in January.

The CAF said it did not involve itself "nor was it responsible for" the business of former soldiers and Canadian citizens.

"Furthermore, we discourage Canadians from traveling to the region themselves, and obviously cannot guarantee their safety," said Daniel Lebouthilier a spokesman for the CAF, adding that Krsnik and Somerville's presence in Syria has "no impact on our operations."

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VICE News cannot independently confirm where or if both veterans are currently fighting against IS. Dillon Hillier, the first Canadian veteran to join a Kurdish fighting group, was also a former member of the Princess Patricia's.

The Canadian government officially warns it's citizens against joining fighting groups countering IS, recommending instead to "join the Canadian Armed Forces."

The CAF is currently part of an international bombing coalition targeting IS in both Syria and Iraq. At the same time, Canadian Special Forces operators are training Kurdish Peshmerga forces on the ground in a mission that has already claimed the life of one Canadian soldier in a friendly fire incident that triggered a national debate over Canada's role in Iraq.

Follow Ben Makuch on Twitter: @bmakuch

Watch the VICE News documentary, PKK Youth: Fighting for Kurdish Neighborhoods: