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The Ex-Canadian Soldier Fighting the Islamic State Is Back Home

From the brutal battlefields of northern Iraq to Ottawa, Dillon Hillier is safe and sound where ISIS can't shoot at him.

by Ben Makuch
Jan 28 2015, 5:38pm

Dillon Hillier, on the far right, driving home from the airport. Photo via Facebook

The same Canadian combat veteran who jumped on a plane from Calgary to fight alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga against the Islamic State has returned home, according to a Facebook post from his father.

Randy Hillier, a Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) in Ontario for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, says his son Dillon Hillier flew back from Kurdistan and is "safely home" in Canada.

"We are proud and relieved that Dillon has returned safely home from the middle-east," read Hillier's statement. "Jane and I would like to express our deep appreciation to all those who contacted us, offering their thoughtful and generous support to our son Dillon while he was engaged alongside the Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan against the Islamic State (ISIL)."

Dillon Hillier made headlines last November after suddenly joining Kurdish forces battling ISIS at a time when the front lines of northern Iraq were not only fluid, but among the most brutal in the world.

Beheadings, kidnappings, and mass executions were regular occurrences in the region Dillon chose to deploy to with the fledgling Kurdish security forces that, at the time, were barely holding off the advances of Islamic State forces.

Since then, the Islamic State has been frozen in northern Iraq while Kurdish YPG forces, allied with the Peshmerga, fought off a massive ISIS assault in the northern Syrian town of Kobane—a battlefield characterized as a veritable modern-day Stalingrad for its brutality and street-to-street fighting.

First video of Hillier shooting.

When Hillier first joined, he was believed to be the first known Canadian veteran attached to Peshmerga forces. In videos from the front lines, Hillier was seen firing rounds of his assault rifle at ISIS forces during a battle in November.

Former Canadian Forces soldier Dillon Hillier. Photo via Facebook

In December, the Hillier family launched an audacious crowdsourcing project to buy Dillon night-vision goggles in time for Christmas. Now, just a month later, Dillon is back home with no need for tactical military equipment.

At the same time, Hillier isn't the only Canadian who wanted to join the Kurds fighting Islamic State forces—a war faction that also counts Canadians within its ranks.

The 1st North American Expeditionary Force, a group of ex-NATO soldiers (led by a Canadian veteran), is attempting to join the Peshmerga cause. Gil Rosenberg, a woman from British Columbia, fought in Kobane with YPG forces, but has recently been away from the front lines. Rosenberg also did a stint in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Even though some eager Canadians look to the battlefields of Kurdistan as a desirable destination, the Canadian department of Foreign Affairs discourages Canadians from joining foreign militaries in the fight against ISIS.

"The Government of Canada has long advised against all travel to Syria and Iraq," a Foreign Affairs spokesperson told VICE in early January. "Canadians traveling to Syria and Iraq, including those who travel there to join local campaigns in the fight against ISIL [ISIS], must do so at their own personal risk and must be aware that rescue missions in this dangerous area will not be conducted."

Instead of the YPG or Peshmerga, the spokesperson encouraged Canadians to "join the Canadian Armed Forces" if they want to help with the fight against ISIS.

While Dillon Hillier shot at ISIS militants, Canadian Special Forces soldiers were busy exchanging gunfire with the militant organization during their own, official mission in Iraq. So far Canada is the only known western military to fight ISIS on the ground. At the same time, Canadian CF-18 fighters are dropping laser-guided bombs on ISIS targets all over Iraq.

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