A British granddad has left his family to join militants fighting Isil on the frontline in Iraq claiming he could no longer sit back and do nothing.

Despite having no military experience, Jim Atherton, 53, of Tyne and Wear, has sold his car to buy weapons and has already come under mortar and rocket attacks.

The granddad, who before leaving for Iraq cared for rescued daschunds, said Special Branch had tried to persuade him to come home, but he believed his place was fighting jihadists. “I’m not a young bloke, I had a heart attack in 2007. But it’s something I felt I had to do. I wanted my grandkids to know what I’m really about,” he told The Sun. “Nobody seemed to be doing anything about it, so I decided that I would. “I don’t think I’m Rambo but I believe I’m a good soldier. Of course I miss my family and dogs.”

Mr Atherton said his family had been devastated by his decision to join a Christian militia called Dwekh Nawsha, which means The Sacrificers. He now belongs to a unit which protects the Christian population of Iraqi villages such as al-Qosh.

He raised the £18,000 needed for travel and guns by selling his Sierra Cosworth, two motorbikes and a boat. Mr Atherton, whose younger brother was killed fighting in Afghanistan, came across Dwekh Nawsha on the internet.

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