Australian man held in Germany after fighting with YPG in Syria

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Ashley Dyball is set to be extradited to Australia where he could face prosecution

Photo of Dyball from social media (Snapchat)
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Last update: 
Friday 4 December 2015 13:25 UTC
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An Australian man who fought with Kurdish forces in Syria against the Islamic State group has been arrested in Germany on suspicion of terrorism.

Ashley Dyball, a 23-year old from Brisbane, posted on his Facebook page (under the alias Mitchell Scott) that he was being sent to the Eisenhuttenstadt Detention Centre, which is in Brandenburg on Germany's eastern border, and was due to be extradited to Australia in two days.

"If anyone has a good German lawyer help a brother out been charged as a terrorist," he wrote.

According to his Facebook page, Dyball worked with a bomb disposal team in the People’s Protection Units (YPG), removing IEDs from fields and villages. He had flown to Europe on a break from the fighting.

Shortly after his arrest, a petition was launched calling for Australia to allow Dyball to return home without fear of prosecution.

The petition’s creators noted that Australian law did not discriminate between those who travelled to Syria to join the YPG and those who travelled to join IS.

“As a result the handful of Australians who have taken a moral stance against the terror and brutality of ISIL and who have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside forces in the coalition against ISIL are viewed under Australian law as criminals and treated no differently to the dozens of Australians who have illegally travelled to Raqqa province in Syria to join ISIL and declare war on humanity,” said the petition.

Dyball is not the first Australian to be threatened with prosecution for attempting to join the anti-IS forces fighting in Syria and Iraq.

On 28 July, Jamie Williams appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with attempting to enter a foreign country with the intention of engaging in hostile activity.

He had reportedly intended to travel to northern Iraq to fight with the Peshmerga.

Australian law prohibits its citizens from travelling abroad to fight in a foreign civil war - unless they intend to serve with the armed forces of the government of a foreign country.

The case was more controversial as the Peshmerga are the armed forces of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government - therefore recognised internationally, but not as the official army of the Iraqi government.

Though the YPG have been supported by the US-led anti-IS coalition - which includes Australia - the self-administered region they control in northern Syria is not recognised by any nation.

While the YPG is not recognised as a terrorist organisation, it's sister party the Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) is designated as such by the European Union and Turkey.

Germany, which has a large Turkish and Kurdish diaspora, has long operated as a base for PKK operatives planning operations and distributing propaganda.