A Canadian woman being held in an ISIS detention camp in northeast Syria has been released with the help of the former U.S. diplomat who helped get herout of the camp and to relatives in Canada earlier this year.
“I can confirm that it’s true and that, yes, I brought her out,” Peter Galbraith told CBC News. “It was a strictly private initiative.”
Galbraith is known to have good relations with Global Affairs Canada and also has strong relations with the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds.
Sources say the woman arrived in Erbil in neighbouring northern Iraq over the weekend after being released from the, which houses more than 700 families of suspected ISIS militants.
The camp is close to Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq and is under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which are running what’s known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
She was one of about 30 Canadians, the majority of them children, being held in the camp and is believed to be the first Canadian adult to leave.
Her release will raise questions about its impact on the other Canadian women and their children still languishing in the camp. Their families have been lobbying Ottawa to repatriate them.
“This was a special case,” said Galbraith, “because [she] was one of a group of women who had very much broken with the dominant Islamic State ideology in the camps, wearing Western clothes and rejecting it, so she was at risk.”
He also said she’d been instrumental in helping officials locate a missing Yazidi child in one of the camps.
Says she was naive when she left Canada for Syria
When CBC Newsthe woman in March, who was 30 at the time, she said she had already been threatened by women in the camp still loyal to ISIS.
At the time, she described herself to CBC News as being naive when she left Canada at the age of 23 and easily led by others. She said she was a housewife, not a militant, and that she knew she’d made a mistake as soon as she’d crossed the border into the so-called caliphate.
Ottawa has always maintained that conditions in northeast Syria are too dangerous for consular officials to visit but that if a Canadian were to present themselves at an embassy, they would be obliged to assist.
When the Canadian woman’s daughter was released from the camp in March, Global Affairs Canada issued a statement that it was not involved in securing the child’s exit from northeastern Syria.
“The government of Canada provided consular assistance to facilitate the child’s travel from Iraq to Canada,” it said.
It’s not clear what procedures are in place for the repatriation of a Canadian citizen accused of the crime of belonging to a group on Canada’s.
Global Affairs Canada has been asked for comment on the matter.
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