Ex-British soldier from Co Laois who fought Islamic State released from Kurdish jail

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An Irish man held in a Kurdish jail for crossing the border illegally from Syria after fighting against the Islamic State has been freed.

Joshua Molloy, from Ballylynan, Co Laois, a former Royal Irish Regiment soldier, was incarcerated along with two British citizens who fought alongside forces trying to defeat the terror organisation.

British diplomats based in Iraq spent the last week trying to secure his freedom along with Jac Holmes, a former IT worker from Bournemouth and Joe Ackerman, a former British soldier from Halifax.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed the release.

“I welcome Joshua’s release and I am pleased that he is now on his way home to join his family in Ireland,” he said.

“Would like to thank all those who helped to make this early release happen. My department will continue to provide consular assistance in this case.”

The three were held together in a prison in Erbil after being detained as they tried to cross in Kurdistan on their way home from fighting ISIS in Syria.

Declan Molloy, Joshua’s father, said emotions in the family were running wild.

“We are all delighted here. We are jumping with joy to know that he is out,” he said.

“You know that Christmas morning feeling, it’s a bit like that, when you find your most sought-after present under the tree, the dream present. That’s how we feel.”

Mr Molloy said Mr Flanagan broke the news to him in a phone call late last night.

He spoke to his son this morning via Facebook and reported that he was “fine” but felt that he would need some time alone after his ordeal.

It is not clear when the 24-year-old former Royal Irish soldier will be home.

Mr Molloy has repeatedly insisted that his son is not a mercenary or a freedom fighter, but that he had travelled to Syria last year for humanitarian reasons.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London were not immediately able to confirm if the two British citizens had been freed.

British diplomats had been working on the ground on behalf of all three men, saying that they do consular work for Irish citizens in difficulty in some countries where Ireland does not have representation.

The soldiers are understood to have fought with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a force reported to have in the region of 25,000-50,000 fighters trying to quell the Islamic State in northern Syria.

They had been imprisoned by authorities from the Kurdish Regional Government.