Maryborough-born man died saving civilians, Kurds say
UPDATE: A FORMER Maryborough man has been killed in Syria, fighting for the Kurds against Islamic State.
Ashley Kent Johnston, 28, was born in Maryborough on April 15, 1986 and is understood to have later lived in the Australian Capital Territory before joining the fight against IS in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.
It is believed he was formerly a medic in the Army Reserves and travelled to Syria independently.
He was killed on Tuesday in northern Syria.
A Kurdish group called the Lions Of Rojava, posted on social media a statement from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) confirming the death.
"He is the first Western fighter to be martyred fighting the evil of ISIS," the statement read.
"Throughout his time in Kurdistan he had a positive impact on my peoples' lives though his humility and kindness to everyone he met."
The statement said Mr Johnston was killed in an assault against IS "near a small village near Shingal".
"His squad of eight fighters were in a truck which had broken down and it was critical that they dislodge ISIS from their positions so they pushed on fearlessly with little regard for their own safety," the statement read.
"They were massively outnumbered and outgunned but fearless in the face of this as they knew another ISIS death meant saving the lives of countless civilians.
"He was a fearless and exceptional soldier as well a great man."
A representative for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they had received reports of the death of an Australian man in Syria on Tuesday but could not confirm his identity.
"The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an Australian volunteer fighting with Kurdish forces against Da'esh (Islamic State) militia was killed in Syria," the representative said.
"The Australian Government's capacity to confirm reports of deaths in either Syria or Iraq is extremely limited."
The representative said due to the extremely dangerous security situation, consular assistance was no longer available within Syria.
"Australians who become involved in overseas conflicts are putting their own lives in mortal danger," the representative said.
"Any Australians fighting with non-state militia in Syria or Iraq should end their involvement in the conflict now and leave the conflict zone.
"Australians are strongly advised not to travel to Syria or Iraq; any Australians in either country should leave immediately."
Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said although he did not know Mr Johnston or his family personally, the news was shocking.
"For this to happen to someone from here shows how volatile and violent the world can be," he said.
"The Fraser Coast will stand united in our grief and pass on our condolences to the family."
Friends paid tribute to Mr Johnston on Facebook.
"Proud of the wonderful principals displayed by Ashley, our brave Aussie man," wrote Jane Rane.
"Respect that he chose to fight on the other side of the world beside the Kurds for freedom."
Ararat Jaff wrote: "We Kurds didn't just lost a hero, but a sun, a brother and a best friend, who left a good life style to fight against ISIS."
Damien Hawkins said it was an honour to know that Mr Johnson "both lived and died with the heart of a lion".
"Much respect to him, his family as well as his warrior brothers who continue to fight and show these cowards called Isis the way to hell," he wrote.
EARLIER: An Australian man killed fighting for the Kurds against the Islamic State death cult in in northern Syria was born in Maryborough.
Thought to be the first Westerner to die in battle against IS, the man has been identified as 28 year-old Ashley Kent Johnston.
Mr Johnston, born in Maryborough, is believed to have been a resident of the ACT before joining the fight against IS in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Australian Kurdish Association president Gulfer Olan confirmed Mr Johnston had died in the fighting and said she was trying to contact Mr Johnston's family to pass on the Kurdish community's condolences.
A man reported killed fighting against Islamic State in Syria, and identified as 28-year-old Australian Ashley Kent Johnston.
A Defence spokeswoman confirmed the dead man was a former Army Reservist but would not confirm his name.