Isis, Turkey and the PKK - Recognise Kurds' rights or 'conflict will continue'

Aiden James has been handed a four-year sentence at the Old Bailey, London for "terror training." The 29-year-old from Formby, Merseyside had left the United Kingdom in 2017 to join the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). James was found guilty for training with the Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as well as possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

After spending nearly a year in both Syria and Iraq, James returned to the UK by taking a flight from Baghdad to Liverpool John Lennon Airport on February 14, 2018. James was arrested from his mother's house and has spent nearly one year and nine months awaiting trial and retrial.

During James' trials, lawyer Andrew Hall pointed out that James was facing "significant personal troubles." Hall claimed that James had separated from the mother of his child. The nasty separation had a devastating impact on the man's mental health.

Turkey Syria Kurdish Afrin
Fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) Ahmad Shafia Bilal/AFP

Sky News pointed out that before James left for his vigilante trip to Syria, he was prescribed anti-depressants. James had also been admitted to a psychiatric unit for treatment.

According to The Guardian, James had tried to join the British armed forces. However, the eager man failed to pass the psychiatric evaluation. His lawyer pointed out excerpts from James' journal which showed that the move to join the fight against Daesh gave him validation. At a point where he felt that his world had fallen apart, fighting the terror group seemed like a constructive move.

James was initially found guilty of associating with both PKK and People's Protection Units (YPG). During re-trial, James was found guilty of only training with PKK since YPG is supported by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and UK special forces.

The sentencing makes James the first British citizen found guilty after fighting the ISIS in Syria. In the case of James Matthews from Dalston, London, charges of terror training were dropped.

James was sentenced to 12 months for training with the PKK. The rest of the 3 years of his sentence was for the possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. Of his 4 year sentence, James has already served one year, eights months and 24 days while waiting for his re-trial