Westerners join Kurds fighting Islamic State group in Iraq



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SINJAR, Iraq (AP) — Even though the U.S. military is only attacking Islamic State militants from the air -- that doesn't mean Americans aren't involved in the ground fight.

Americans are among the dozens of Westerners who have gone to Iraq to join Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

They include Jordan Matson of Wisconsin, a former U.S. Army soldier. He says, "I'm not going back until the fight is finished and ISIS is crippled." Matson says he decided that if his government wasn't going to help Iraq, and the Kurdish people who helped Americans when they fought there, then he "was going to do something" himself.

As the U.S. and its coalition allies bomb the extremists from the air, Kurds say they hope more Westerners will join them on the ground to fight.

So far, the U.S. hasn't banned Americans from fighting with militias against the Islamic State group -- although the government considers the Kurdish Workers' Party, based in Turkey, to be a terrorist organization.

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APPHOTO CAI502: In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo, Jordan Matson, 28, far right, a former U.S. Army soldier from Sturtevant, Wis., takes a break with other fighters from the main Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units, or YPG, in Sinjar, Iraq. Matson and dozens of other Westerners now fight with the Kurds, spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty many feel after Iraq, the target of a decade-long U.S.-led military campaign, collapsed under an Islamic State group offensive within days last summer. (AP Photo/Vivian Salama) (2 Feb 2015)

<<APPHOTO CAI502 (02/02/15)££

APPHOTO CAI501: In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo, Jordan Matson, 28, right, a former U.S. Army soldier from Sturtevant, Wis., takes a break with other fighters from the main Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units, or YPG, in Sinjar, Iraq. Matson and dozens of other Westerners now fight with the Kurds, spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty many feel after Iraq, the target of a decade-long U.S.-led military campaign, collapsed under an Islamic State group offensive within days last summer. (AP Photo/Vivian Salama) (2 Feb 2015)

<<APPHOTO CAI501 (02/02/15)££

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The Associated Press

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