When soldiers are killed, I mourn, but at least I understand the mechanism at hand: We kill their combatants, they kill ours.
But they were not combatants fighting for a particular political or religious goal.
In response, as though startled by this ghostly rebirth, the present combatants have begun to respond.
mid-15c. (adj.), late 15c. (n.), from Old French combatant (Modern French combattant) "skilled at fighting, warlike" (also used as a noun in Old French), present participle adjective of combattre (see combat (v.)).