Body of Canadian fighter recovered from ISIL five months after he was killed in Syria

Ryan Lock from UK and Nazzareno Antonio Tassone from Canada lost their lives in western Raqqa on December 21, 2016

TORONTO — Five months after a Canadian was killed by ISIL, his body has been recovered in northern Syria and preparations are underway to get him home, a Kurdish community leader said Monday.

The Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, the rebel force better known as the YPG, retrieved Nazzareno Tassone’s from ISIL, said Ihsan Kaya, president of the Toronto Kurdish Community Centre.

“The YPG, they called me yesterday. They said they had taken the body from ISIS,” Kaya said. He predicted it would take two weeks to return Tassone to Ontario. “They said to me the body’s fine, but I don’t know.”

Upon hearing the news, Tassone’s mother announced on Facebook she was cancelling a memorial service that had been planned for next Saturday in Niagara Falls, “until his body is here with us.”

“A special message to all of you letting you know that my son is coming home,” Tina Martino wrote, adding that “my heart is hurting it’s definitely different news that you would ever hear on Mother’s Day.”

Tassone, who grew up in Ontario, left Edmonton last June, telling his mother he was going to teach English in Iraq. Instead he crossed into Syria and joined the YPG. He was killed in an ambush on Dec. 21. He was 24.

The body of the British fighter he was with, Ryan Lock, was returned to London on Feb. 19 but the whereabouts of Tassone’s body remained a mystery, which was unsettling for Martino, who wanted to bury her son at home.

On March 29, the Canadian embassy in Erbil, Iraq sent Tassone’s backpack to Martino by courier. Inside, she found notes from two fellow fighters, one of them a former Regina resident, describing how he had died.

“We joined an assault on a village, but were ambushed,” the other, a German, wrote. “During the resulting firefight that lasted for four hours, Agir (Tassone) and Ryan were killed in their rear guard action.”

Hundreds of international volunteers, including dozens of Canadians, have made their way to Syria and Iraq to help Kurdish forces battle ISIL. Tassone is the second Canadian to die, after John Robert Gallagher, killed Nov. 4, 2015.

“I hope it comes soon,” Kaya said of the body. He said the Canadian government should help facilitate his return. Kurdish officials are holding Tassone’s passport, which should smooth his return.

“It’s better than nothing,” he said.

Source: National Post
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