Raqqa, Syria
Raqqa, Syria

Two American men have been killed fighting against Islamic State militants in the terror group's de facto capital city of Raqqa, Syria.

A U.S.-allied Kurdish militia said Tuesday that 28-year-old Robert Grodt of Santa Cruz, California, and 29-year-old Nicholas Alan Warden of Buffalo died last week.

The People's Protection Units, also known by their Kurdish initials as the YPG, said Warden died on July 5, and Grodt died the next day.

Grodt had been active in several causes in the United States, even meeting his partner, Kaylee Dedrick of Albany, when she was pepper-sprayed at the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests. The pair's daughter, Tegan Kathleen Grodt, born in September 2012, was dubbed the First Occubaby.

FILE - Robert Grodt, right, and Amber Oestreich, w
FILE - Robert Grodt, right, and Amber Oestreich, who are part of the protest movement Occupy Wall Street, rest on a mattress in New York's Zuccotti Park, Sept. 26, 2011.

Grodt appeared in a YPG YouTube video two weeks ago, in which he explained why he left his family to fight against Islamic State.

"My reason for joining the YPG was to help the Kurdish people and their struggle for autonomy within Syria and elsewhere,'' said Grodt, shown wearing camouflage clothes and holding a rifle.

Warden says in another YPG video that he traveled from Buffalo in February to fight the Islamic State group because of attacks inspired by the group in San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; and Paris.

The two men are not the first Americans to die fighting alongside Kurdish forces. Grodt and Warden were also not members of the U.S. special forces embedded with the Syrian coalition.

U.S.-backed forces have conquered a third of Raqqa since launching the push on the city last month.

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