A Canadian woman was released from a camp for ISIS detainees in northeast Syria on the weekend, a lawyer representing her family said on Monday.
The woman, believed to have left Alberta for Syria in 2014, has been taken to northern Iraq, setting the stage for her return to Canada.
She is the first Canadian adult to leave the makeshift camps and prisons for suspected ISIS members captured in Syria during the conflict.
But what awaits her upon her arrival in Canada in the coming weeks remains uncertain.
Asked what steps were being taken to protect public safety, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office declined to answer. The RCMP also did not comment.
Canada repatriates orphaned girl from ISIS camp in Syria
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.
Canadian ISIS fighters detained in Syria left in legal limbo
The RCMP has been investigating Canadians caught in Syria, in an attempt to have charges ready should they return.
Lorde adds another death blow to the compact disc
Fully vaccinated against COVID-19? Canada unveils new guidance on what you can, can’t do
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.
Rights group wants government to ‘urgently’ repatriate Canadians from ISIS camps in Syria
Human Rights Watch alleges there are 47 Canadians detained in the region, and has called on the government to bring them home as a “matter of urgent priority.”
But returning them is unpopular among Canadians, and the government has struggled with what are known as Canadian Extremist Travellers.
Last week, an Ontario man who admitted he left Canada in 2019 to join ISIS was released after just over 18 months in custody.
Charges against his wife were stayed by prosecutors, although she travelled with him and the Crown argued in court it was a “joint venture.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.