Oliver Hall died while on an operation to clear ISIS mines in Raqqa
Briton killed in Syria joined YPG after horror at Manchester bombing
A British man who died fighting with the YPG in Raqqa travelled to Syria after becoming frustrated by the government response to terror attacks in the UK, an inquest has heard.
Oliver Hall died in November 2017 during an operation to clear mines left by ISIS in the recently-liberated city.
Mr Hall, 24, from Gosport, Hampshire, travelled to Syria in August 2017, following a summer of major terror attacks in the European cities of Manchester, London and Barcelona.
The court in Portsmouth, southern England, heard he had entered the home of a family who had returned to Raqqa to check for unexploded devices when he unwittingly set off two.
Coroner David Horsley described Mr Hall as a “hero” who had given his life to protect the safety of others.
Speaking at the hearing, Mr Hall’s mother Jane Lyndon said she had been unaware of her son’s plans to join the YPG, a Kurdish armed group which has been fighting against ISIS in Syria.
However, she noticed in the months leading up to his departure he had talked more about the situation in the Middle East and had become increasingly concerned following the Manchester bombing in May 2017, when 22 people were killed by suicide bomber Salman Abedi.
“Any time attacks happened he would say ‘look the government are not doing anything’,” Mrs Lyndon said.
Jonathon Duncan, a friend of Mr Hall’s, told the court that the ISIS-inspired attack in Manchester had brought things “too close to home” for him.
“Europe is close but as soon as the attacks came over here, if anyone isn't going to do anything we have to do it ourselves," Mr Duncan said.
Mr Duncan, who knew his friend planned to travel to Syria, helped Mr Hall prepare for the trip by ensuring he went with the correct kit.
Mr Duncan said his friend, who had no military experience, had prepared for Syria by giving up smoking and concentrating on his exercise regime.
Mrs Lyndon said on the day her son left the UK, he had driven her to work and given her £20 for a taxi home because he said he would too busy meeting friends to pick her up later on.
“He said: ‘I love you mum’,” Mrs Lyndon told the hearing.
Mr Hall sent a text message to his mother later on that day to say he had travelled to Germany to work at a refugee camp.
The message included the words: “Mum, don’t be disappointed or angry this is something I feel I must do.”
Mr Hall, who trained as a telecommunications engineer, said, prior to his decision to do charity work, he had not known what to do with his life.
Mrs Lyndon suspected her son was not in Germany when she discovered that he had taken painkilling tablets as well as desert boots with him. She told her husband: “I am never going to see him again’,” she said.
Detective Constable David Brunsden of Hampshire Police said there was no suggestion Mr Hall had been coerced into joining the YPG. Previous media reports suggested Mr Hall was killed after he went into a building rigged with ISIS booby traps to save two boys.
However, Mrs Lyndon said sources in the YPG, who were with her son on the day he died, said Mr Hall and five others had been stopped by a Kurdish man and his daughter who were concerned their house had unexploded devices inside.
Pathologist Brett Lockyer said the cause of death was “multiple traumatic injuries” likely to have been caused by two bombs.
Mr Hall is one of eight Britons who have been killed while working with Kurdish forces in Syria. His body was repatriated at the same time as Jac Holmes, from Bournemouth, who died in Raqqa in October 2017.