WASHINGTON — A former Marine who traveled to Syria to volunteer with local militants fighting the Islamic State group is now missing, according to another American volunteer fighter.

Two American volunteers, Kevin Howard, a Marine Corps veteran, and Taylor Hudson, an American citizen and veteran of the French Foreign Legion, claimed that a little-known group of U.S.-backed Syrian militants held them against their will.

Hudson told Military Times Friday that he was freed from the group late Wednesday. But the whereabouts of Kevin Howard are still unknown, Hudson said.

The Americans were allegedly held by the Syriac Military Council, or MFS, which is a militant group of Syriac Christians fighting against ISIS in Syria. The group falls under the larger umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is backed and supplied by the U.S. as they fight the Islamic State group in Raqqa.

The MFS claims Howard is free and crossed the border into Iraq last night.

“When he [Kevin Howard] asked to leave and go back home, he was told it is OK and he was given a release and stayed in a Syriac Military Council base till his trip was organized,” a spokesperson for the MFS told Military Times.

But Taylor claimed that MFS’s statement that Howard had been released was false.

According to Taylor, Howard’s last known location was Derik, Syria, where he was being held by the MFS.

Howard has remained in sporadic contact with a close friend in the United States named Jeannette Carlisle since his alleged detention on Tuesday. The MFS has allowed the former Marine veteran to communicate at times with friends, a sign they claim that Howard is being treated well and not being held against his will.

Howard expressed worry and frustration that the MFS had confiscated his passport and refused to give it back, she said.

The last message Carlisle received from Kevin was Thursday at 1:48 AM CT, in which Kevin said he was worried he was going to be dumped at the border by MFS officials.

MFS told Military Times they were trying to help Howard.

“He was already knowing that he will face problems with the authorities in KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq] and that was what we want to help him with to avoid,” an MFS spokesman explained to Military Times.

But, Hudson called that claim false as well. He told Military Times that MFS said they would assist him with crossing the border as well but that the group has done nothing since to help.

MFS did provide a rather cryptic message to Military Times about why Kevin was being held.

“If any of the Syriac Military Council including Mr. Harlly [Kevin Howard’s nom de guerre] make any mistakes they are obligated to go through the organizational process to clear the problem, which was the case with Mr. Harlly,” a spokesman for MFS said.

Military Times reached out to MFS to clarify the statement and whether Howard was ever charged with a crime.

An MFS spokesman said Howard was charged with undisciplined attitude but not a crime, but the spokesman provided no further details.

Foreign volunteers trying to leave the Syrian battlefield face a myriad of problems. Many of them have been temporarily detained by Iraqi forces while attempting to cross the border area.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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