A British film maker died in a hail of bullets when Islamic State militants disguised as allies sneaked their way into a compound near Raqqa in Syria, an inquest was told.
Mehmet Aksoy, 32, who studied filmmaking at Goldsmiths, University of London, travelled to Kurdistan via Germany last June and joined the Kurds as a press officer.
He died along with a female journalist outside a media centre during the attack last September, North London Coroners Court was told.
Mr Aksoy was shot six times by the militants who had tricked their way into the compound used by the YPG – the Kurdish People’s Protection Units – by wearing Syrian Democratic Forces uniforms.
He was covering the battle to retake Raqqa from IS, and friends said he wanted to ‘bring attention to the fight against that evil’.
Mr Aksoy’s father paid tribute to him, saying he would always be proud of his son.
IS militants drove into the base in the Semra district of Raqqa in three vehicles between 7.30am and 8am on September 26th, the inquest heard.
The first two drove past and gunmen in the third vehicle opened fire, killing Mr Aksoy, a female photojournalist and YPG guards before being shot themselves.
A pathologist found Mr Aksoy died from a gunshot wound to the chest, North London Coroner’s Court heard.
Coroner Andrew Walker ruled Mr Aksoy was unlawfully killed.
He said: ‘From the facts that I have found, there can be no doubt that the person who fired on the press officers did so not accidentally, or in self defence.
‘It seems there is no doubt in my mind that when firing those shots, the person who did so intended to kill the persons fired at, or cause them some really serious injury.
‘I am going to record a conclusion of unlawful killing.’
He told Mr Aksoy’s family and friends: ‘Can I just offer you my deepest sympathies at this time.’
DC Tim Johnson told the inquest: ‘He was in the media centre for the YPG.
‘This centre was attacked by Islamic State militants, who shot and killed Mr Aksoy, and a number of YPG guards and also another female journalist.’
The Met Police were alerted to his death on September 27, after it was widely reported.
They were unable to find any direct witnesses, and the ‘best account’ they received was from the YPG.
Detectives initially tried to contact the group through the Foreign Office, then a police contact in Iraq, but neither was able to help, the inquest heard.
Eventually, through the Blue Crescent Medical organisation, they got in touch with the YPG, who emailed a report.
DC Johnson said: ‘Mr Aksoy was in front of a press building for journalists in a well protected and secure area.
‘IS fighters dressed in SDF uniforms drove through the base between seven and eight in the morning, and began to shoot.
‘Mr Aksoy was shot by those IS militants. He was then taken to a medical building but unfortunately passed away.’
He said it was unclear whether the vehicle stopped or was driving past when they opened fire.
Mr Aksoy ‘passed away a few seconds after being shot’, the YPG report said.
The account was corroborated by a friend of Mr Aksoy’s, and a video produced by British fighter Jack Holmes which showed the vehicles and bodies, the inquest heard.
DC Johnson added: ‘The IS militants were all killed.
‘Other people from the YPG retaliated to the attack and the IS attackers were killed instantly.’
Mr Aksoy, who was born in Turkey but lived in Luton, Bedfordshire, suffered six gunshot wounds, including ones to his left arm and hand.
But it was unclear if they were from six bullets or the injuries were linked.
His father asked about the shooting distance and the type of gun used, but DC Johnson was unable to say.
The Coroner thanked him for investigating ‘this tragedy’.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Aksoy’s father, Kalender Aksoy, 55, said: ‘I will always remember my son as a very good person.
‘He never really did anything bad, or harm families, society or anyone else.
‘He always worked hard for the society, for the values and principles of the society.
‘I would like everybody to remember my son as a good person, and as a good man.
‘Until I die, I will be proud of him.’
He said ‘of course’ it was hard to hear the details, adding: ‘We relived it like the first day. The pain didn’t go at all. It’s like the first time to hear the story.
‘We were expecting it. That’s why the mother and other family members didn’t really want to come and listen, and see more things that they cannot really take in.
‘There was no answer to the distance and the ballistics report. We didn’t really learn anything new.’
Mr Aksoy’s friend Esra Turk, 33, said: ‘I was in contact with him while he was out there.
‘He was content with what he was doing there. He felt like it was the right place to be at that point.’
She added: ‘In terms of Mehmet and why he went there, with the current situation of the war in Syria, it’s really crucial to remember the conflict has been going on since 2011.
‘And all of a sudden ISIS turned up and added to the hell that was happening there.
‘He wanted to bring attention to the fight against that evil.
‘And to kind of show the world that there are alternatives to the hell that has been going on in Syria. He just didn’t have much time to do that unfortunately.’
Thousands of people gathered to pay tribute to Mr Aksoy at the Kurdish Community Centre in Harringay, north London, last November. He was buried at Highgate Cemetry.
Close friend Yuksel Adiguzel previously told MailOnline: ‘He was a very loving person with so much passion and intellect. Mehmet wanted freedom for Kurds and all other oppressed people.
His dream was to help create a more educated, modern, democratic, equal and conscious society.’
Source: Daily Mail