Shomporko Online News Desk: A lawyer for her family stated on Monday that a Canadian woman was liberated from an ISIS detention center in northeast Syria over the weekend.
The woman, who is said to have fled Alberta for Syria in 2014, has been transported to northern Iraq, paving the way for her eventual return to Canada.
She is the first adult Canadian to escape the makeshift camps and jails set up in Syria for alleged ISIS members caught during the conflict.
What she will find when she arrives in Canada in the following weeks is unknown.
Asked what steps were being taken to protect public safety, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office declined to answer. The RCMP did not comment.
But sources told Global News the RCMP was not notified about the case until Sunday, leaving little time to prepare.
Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon told Global News the woman is the mother of a four-year-old girl who was brought back to Canada from Syria in March.
The mother’s departure from the Syrian camp was facilitated by a “third party,” specifically former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, Greenspon said.
Galbraith was also responsible for getting the woman’s daughter out of Kurdish custody, Greenspon said. Galbraith could not be reached for comment.
Greenspon said Global Affairs Canada was obligated to facilitate the mother’s return to Canada.
The RCMP has been investigating Canadians caught in Syria, in an attempt to have charges ready should they return.
But police have also acknowledged the challenge of finding usable evidence about events in Syria and Iraq.
At least nine Canadian women, five men and several dozen children are believed to be detained by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
None yet faces any charges, although two have admitted their role in ISIS to Global News. Only two have been brought back to Canada to date, both children.
The Liberal government has taken the position that northeast Syria is too dangerous for consular officials, so it is unable to provide travel documents for the Canadians.
That has left the detainees in a network of prisons and detention camps operated by the SDF, Kurdish rebels who battled ISIS and captured some 100,000 fighters and their families.
But Greenspon said the case showed it was possible to get the Canadians out. “It’s totally doable, and it’s been doable for 20 other countries,” he said.
Human Rights Watch claims there are 47 Canadians detained in the region and has urged the government to return them as soon as possible.
Returning them, however, is unpopular with Canadians, and the government has had to deal with so-called Canadian Extremist Travellers.
After little over 18 months in detention, an Ontario man who admitted to fleeing Canada in 2019 to join ISIS was released last week.
Prosecutors stayed the charges against his wife, despite the fact that she traveled with him and the Crown maintained in court that it was a “joint venture.”