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Ryan Lock, the British hero who died fighting ISIS

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Ryan Lock was evidently involved in the advance towards the ISIS capital, Raqqa. "I don't believe this can be viewed as suicide," the coroner said. "He was a very brave man and his family have lost a very heroic young man."

Ryan Lock was 20 years old.

For most Britons Ryan's age, the normal routine of life is pretty comfortable. You've been going out for two or three years, so you know how to have a good time. But you're still living at home and matching free meals to zero rent.

For Ryan Lock, however, an easy life was an unworthy one. So, in August 2016, Ryan, a chef by trade, told his family that he was going to Turkey for a vacation.

That line is used by many jihadists who seek to join the Islamic State, or ISIS. But while Lock was also lying to his family like the jihadists, his lie was in the service of good.

Because once in Turkey, Lock joined a Kurdish militia force and headed into Syria. Deeply concerned by ISIS atrocities, Ryan wanted to save innocent people.

Lock had no military training and did not speak Arabic or Kurdish, and one can only imagine that the early weeks of his action were tough. Still, he pushed on.

Lock was evidently involved in the advance towards the ISIS capital, Raqqa.

But in December, disaster struck. Lock and several other Kurdish fighters were surrounded in Jabar, a group of villages west of Raqqa. Wounded, out-gunned, and with no chance of escape, the 20 year-old faced one of three grueling choices.

He could surrender and be tortured, then decapitated, drowned, immolated, or executed for ISIS' death television in some other grotesque fashion. He could go down fighting, but risk only being wounded and thus facing the above fate. Or he could take his own life.

He chose the last option.

As the Daily Mail reports, coroner David Horsley recognized Lock's heroism at his inquest. "He was likely to have fallen to the hands of a cruel and ruthless enemy," the coroner said, "so instead he took his own life. It can only be viewed as a very brave act. I don't believe this can be viewed as suicide. He was a very brave man and his family have lost a very heroic young man."

Indeed. Lock takes his place in the pantheon of British heroes. He joins those like Wayne Marques, who in June charged three terrorists armed with only his baton.

Still, Lock's family can be proud for another reason. Look at the map below. The yellow area is Kurdish militia-held territory. The bulls-eye is where Ryan fell in December. And the mix of yellow and black blocks to the east is Raqqa. The ISIS fighters in Raqqa are totally surrounded. They are all going to die.

This is the victory Ryan helped win.

We should also always remember that it tends to be the youngest, those like Ryan Lock and Ernest Kernen, who give the most for freedom.