Volunteer from US relief group killed in Syria by Turkish mortar attack

An official from the SDF on Sunday confirmed that a volunteer from the relief group Free Burma Rangers (FBR) was killed earlier that day.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An official from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday confirmed that a volunteer from the relief group Free Burma Rangers (FBR) was killed earlier that day.

“Just received terrible news of Free Burma Rangers medic’s death after their car [was] targeted by Turkish army near Til Temir,” said Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office.

“They have been bravely putting their lives on the line to help wounded here. I’m so sorry. RIP hero,” he wrote in a statement.

According to the organization, the volunteer was named Zau Seng and was from Myanmar (Burma). He died after a mortar hit 10 meters from an FBR ambulance while he was documenting Turkish attacks as a videographer.

In this undated photo, Zau Seng (right) is seen with other volunteers and FBR head Dave Eubank (center left). (Photo: FBR)
In this undated photo, Zau Seng (right) is seen with other volunteers and FBR head Dave Eubank (center left). (Photo: FBR)

Another volunteer from Iraq was also injured, according to reports.

The Rojava Information Centre said in a tweet that the FBR team member was “killed in the Turkish artillery strike near Qasimiye village, as a shell landed near their medical convoy and shrapnel struck it. Two more team members are being transferred to Heseke for treatment.”

The Free Burma Rangers are led by Dave Eubank, a former Special Forces operative. The organization’s website describes it as “a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working to bring help, hope and love to people in the conflict zones of Burma, Iraq, and Sudan.” FBR trains teams in frontline medical treatment in addition to gathering evidence of human rights abuses. 

The organization has spent days providing aid to injured civilians and fighters from Til Temir, which has been under constant Turkish attacks.

The Free Burma Rangers medical team was present in Syria during the final military battles against Islamic State near Baghouz. They also helped Peshmerga forces and Iraqi forces in their fight against the extremist group.

When the US military and then international aid organizations started to pull out from the border, Eubank's team was one of the few organizations left to provide medical care to fighters and civilians on the frontlines after Turkey launched its military incursion into northern Syria on Oct. 9. 

The FBR was also one of the few aid groups that were allowed to go in to evacuate civilians and injured fighters when Kurdish-led forces pulled out from the city of Serekaniye on Oct. 20.

“This zone is one of ethnic cleansing with 300,000 people displaced. Many have been killed and wounded. Homes are destroyed. The Kurds are calling this area the genocide zone,” said Eubank in a press statement on Oct. 29.

“The safe zone is not safe by any definition. It is the zone of the Turkish invasion. We’ve seen their tanks and been fired upon by those tanks and their aircraft. There has been no ceasefire this whole time.

Editing by John J. Catherine