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Man from Birkenhead killed while fighting against Islamic State in Syria

A man from Birkenhead has died while fighting against the Islamic State in Syria, a Kurdish military force has said.

Luke Rutter died while fighting for the YPG in Syria Credit: YPG

The People's Protection Units (YPG) said 22-year-old Luke Rutter had died in the city of Raqqa on July 5.

A video of a "final message" from Mr Rutter, also known as Soro Zinar, was posted on the force's Facebook page.

In the video, Mr Rutter apologised for lying to his loved ones about going to fight.

"I lied to people I care about to come here. I said that I was going somewhere else, I didn't.

"I apologise massively for that.

"Apart from that I don't regret my decision and I hope that you respect it."

– Luke Rutter

He said he had learnt basic soldiering skills and the Kurdish language at the YPG academy.

He added: "My reasons for joining the YPG I think are like everyone else's.

"I think the YPG, they stand for the best opportunity for peace that this region might have."

A statement on the YPG's Facebook page said:

"Comrade Soro travelled to Rojava in March and joined the YPG to fight the fascist and reactionary Daesh (ISIS) gangs in Raqqa.

"He was martyred on 5 July 2017 after battling bravely in the terrorist group's so-called capital. The people of Rojava will not forget his sacrifice."

– YPG's Facebook page

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Andy Burnham: If the government can afford a deal with the DUP, it can afford to make tower blocks safer

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says the government, not local authorities and housing associations, should pay for fire safety improvements in tower blocks across England.

Cladding on 11 more high-rise buildings in Manchester have failed fire safety tests, bringing the total in the North West to 28, including blocks in Bootle, Salford and Wythenshawe.

Speaking at a housing conference in Manchester on Tuesday, where he announced a plan to end homelessness in the region within a decade, Mr Burnham said 180 buildings in Greater Manchester had so far been inspected by firefighters to ensure they are safe.

He told our political correspondent Daniel Hewitt that if the Conservative government could find money to make a deal with the DUP and "keep itself in power", it could find the money to ensure residents across England are safe in their homes.

On Monday while answering questions in Parliament over the government's response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Communities secretary Sajid Javid suggested local authorities should use their reserves to pay for improvements to tower blocks, adding that housing associations were responsible for making their buildings fit for habitation.

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