U.S. volunteer John Cole (L), 23, sits next to a Kurdish fighter at a checkpoint in Makhmour, Iraq April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
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U.S. volunteers seek adventure fighting DaeshTowering over his Kurdish partner at a checkpoint in northern Iraq, U.S. volunteer John Cole cuts an unusual figure on the road to the newest front in the war against Daesh. Cole fell in with Kurdish fighters in neighboring Syria last July and a few months later went to Iraq, where he plans to stay until at least October.Last week, Cole was manning a roadblock near the town of Makhmour and just outside Camp Swift, a base for U.S. forces helping the Iraqi army and peshmerga in a slow-going offensive aimed at eventually recapturing the northern city of Mosul.Unlike many of the volunteers, Cole is no seasoned ex-serviceman. The U.S. troops that remain in Iraq are largely on a mission to train and support Iraqi government and peshmerga forces, with those at Camp Swift restricted to their base several kilometers from the front line.Many of the volunteers are veterans of Western militaries, including Ryan O'Leary, a divorced 29-year-old from Iowa who came to Kurdistan a year ago after tours with the army in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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