Reports on Tuesday claiming Tony Ekman, a 51-year old Swedish national, is being held prisoner by the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) were rebuked by Ekman himself as he spoke to Kom News on Tuesday.
“I’ve been fighting religious fanaticism for a year and a half in this region. I joined the YBS a month ago and all was fine until the conflict between other Kurdish groups started. At that point, I didn’t want to continue, I’m not here to fight Kurds,” Ekman said.
“When I no longer wanted to participate, I was brought to a house where people I didn’t know or could communicate with were. The situation of waiting was frustrating so I sent a message to the embassy in Baghdad. Eventually, the group that left me at the house came back and I’m with them now. They are saying that I will be able to leave as soon as the situation allows,” Ekman, a veteran who also fought in Yugoslavia, said.
“I am absolutely not kidnapped and I have great respect for the YBS, and they show me the same respect,” Ekman said.
Speaking to Kom News, the general commander of the YBS, Mazlum Shingal, said that Tony Ekman was with the internationalist brigade and was on duty.
“We have many internationalist fighters within our ranks. There are those that come and fight with us for a certain period of time and return back to their countries, and there are those that do not want to go back. We have always made the necessary arrangements for our internationalist fighters when they have wanted to return.”
The YBS commander added that the current situation in and around Shingal was not suitable for travel. “Everyone knows the tension right now around Shingal. There are KDP peshmerga all around us and they are detaining anyone that has contact with the YBS. We take strict precautions before any travel so that we can guarantee the safety of our comrade [Ekman] all the way back home.”