US mother of three 'joins Kurdish forces to fight Islamic State' in Iraq

A mother of three from the US has left her family behind to reportedly volunteer as a combatant in the fight against so-called Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Samantha Johnston, 25, is a former member of the US military, but had never served overseas - despite travelling extensively herself, the Daily Telegraph reports.

In an interview with US news website the Daily Caller, ex-US Army engineer Johnston said she felt it was her duty to take up arms against the militants, although she had not seen combat before:

Samantha Johnston stripping an AK assault rifle. Credit: Samantha Johnston/Facebook

Ms Johnston, from Emerald Island, North Carolina, called the decision to leave her children behind and risk her life in Iraq "extremely hard" but insisted it was the right thing to do, saying that she wouldn't be able to forgive herself for sitting by and doing nothing.

Her almost-daily public Facebook posts suggest she has been in the country since late April and her photos are attracting hundreds of comments and show her in various situations across the war-torn region.

Credit: Samantha Johnston/Facebook

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In one image she can be seen sat in the back of a vehicle brandishing an AK automatic rifle and a kuffiyah headscarf.

"Yeeeah I stand out" she says in the caption, "Sunscreen please? My Kurdish girls are so used to the sun but me...I'm a ghost."

Credit: Samantha Johnston/Facebook

Other images show her stripping a weapon, posing with other Kurdish fighters and handing out aid to refugees - which suggest that she is undergoing a training programme or is undertaking a humanitarian role away from the front lines, but this has not been independently verified by ITV News.

Johnston is one of around 100 foreigners thought to be fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people displaced since IS forces swept across large parts of the country last summer.

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