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One Man’s War: Kurdish Fighter Returns to Battle

Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, 22, is currently defending the strategic Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, but every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family who evacuated as ISIS forces gained ground in September.

ABOVE: Sheikh Ahmad sits with his wife Siham, 23, and their two sons, Dilyar, 3, and Ibrahim, 2, at his brother's house in Suruc, Turkey, on Oct. 17.

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Holding her son Dilyar, Siham Sheikh Ahmad looks on as her husband prepares to leave for Kobani to rejoin the fighting.

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Sheikh Ahmad rides a motorcycle on the outskirts of Suruc as he and other fighters approach the border to try and cross into Syria to rejoin the fighting in Kobani on Oct. 17.

"We just want to defend our lands, our towns, our villages, where Kurdish people are," Sheikh Ahmad said.

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Sheikh Ahmad and other fighters approach the border to cross into Syria to rejoin the fighting In Kobani. The crossing isn't always open, in either direction. "It is hard, but we will get back in because our friends are there. We have to get inside, even if there is hardship, we will get inside."

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, left, poses with comrades and a makeshift armored vehicle on the outskirts of Kobani, Syria, in this recent photo supplied by Sheikh Ahmad.

At the age of 22, Sheikh Ahmad has become a battle-hardened father of two, fighting against an ever increasing array of groups embroiled in Syria's multi-faceted civil.

A conscript serving his military service in Syrian President Bashar Assad's army when the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011, the Syrian Kurdish teenager at the time was seriously wounded in Daraa — where the revolution began — while fighting the rebels in July that year. The bullet that hit him narrowly missed his heart, and he was sent to his home village of Metina to recover.

There, he joined a local self-defense force protecting the village — and ended up fighting against four separate rebel groups: the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, the Raqqa Brigade and, lastly, ISIS. In one of the twists of this multi-sided war, his militia eventually joined the main Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units, also known as YPG which joined forces with the Raqqa Brigade against ISIS.

Str / AP

Thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rises in Kobani, Syria, as fighting continued between Syrian Kurds and ISIS militants on Oct. 18.

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP