Matson takes a break with YPG fighters.
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As Kurdish fighters gathered around a fire in this damp, frigid mountain town in northwestern Iraq, exhausted from battling ISIS militants, a surprising recruit wearing a tactical vest with the words "Christ is Lord" scribbled on it joined them.The fighter, with a sniper rifle slung over his shoulder and Rambo-styled bandanna around his head, is 28-year-old Jordan Matson from Sturtevant, Wisconsin, a former U.S. Army soldier who joined the Kurds to fight the extremist group now holding a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria.Matson and dozens of other Westerners now fight with the Kurds, spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty that many feel after Iraq, the target of a decade-long U.S.-led military campaign, collapsed under ISIS offensives within days last summer.Matson, three other Americans and an Australian national who spoke to the AP all said they arranged joining Kurdish forces through the Facebook page, run by the People's Protection Units, or YPG, the main Syrian Kurdish militia fighting in northern Syria and Iraq.Fighting remains dangerous for the Westerners as well. Two of the foreign fighters said they had just returned from visiting an American fighter badly wounded in battle.
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