Former American and Austrian soldiers take up arms and join fighters in the battle against Islamic State militants in Syria. Jennifer Davis reports.
American, Jeremy Woodard, has joined forces with Kurdish fighters known as Popular Protection Units (YPG) in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Ras al-Ain, Syria. Twenty-eight year-old Woodard is a US Army veteran, originally from Meridian, Mississippi. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. SOLDIER NOW FIGHTING WITH YPG IN SYRIA, JEREMY WOODARD, SAYING: "I served in the U.S. army for eight years, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan." Woodard says YPG doesn't recruit fighters from abroad. He joined the effort willingly. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. SOLDIER NOW FIGHTING WITH YPG IN SYRIA, JEREMY WOODARD, SAYING: "ISIS has pretty much taken over - running people away from their homes, killing innocent people, raping people, selling Kurdish people into slavery as sex-slaves. A lot of us don't want to stand for that so myself and others have decided to come here and fight against it." Another foreign fighter who's joined the cause identifies himself only as Benjamin. He's a former Austrian soldier who says he previously spent two months fighting with the Ukrainian forces against Russia and served in the Austrian army for four years before coming to Syria. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER AUSTRIAN SOLDIER NOW FIGHTING WITH YPG IN SYRIA, BENJAMIN, SAYING: "I want to help here. What is ISIS doing in very bad and the whole world is looking and nobody support and I think we have to stop them here before they come back to our homes in Europe and also it's very bad what happened here with Kurdish people - that's the reason why I come here." These fighters don't collect a formal salary, but say YPG does provide them with basic amenities like food, drink, clothing and shelter. But they're not here for money. They say they're here to protect innocent people and win them back their freedom. .