Diplomats to travel to Syria following detention of former Irish soldier

A former female Defence Forces soldier arrested in Syria on suspicion of joining Islamic State (IS) also served in the Air Corps, where she helped work on the government jet.

Diplomats to travel to Syria following detention of former Irish soldier

Irish diplomats are expected to travel to Syria in the coming days after it emerged an Irish woman is being detained in the country.

37-year-old Lisa Smith, from Dundalk in County Louth, is being held at a camp there after being picked up by US forces.

She is being held along with her two-year-old son.

The former member of the Irish Defence Forces travelled to war-torn country in 2015.

Irish soldier held in Syria worked on Government jet

By Sean O'Riordan

A former female Defence Forces soldier arrested in Syria on suspicion of joining Islamic State (IS) also served in the Air Corps, where she helped work on the government jet.

The woman, believed to be in her 30s, was reportedly detained in northern Syria a few days ago.

She’s believed to be the first former member of the Defence Forces to have gone on to join IS, although it is well known that a number of former soldiers defected to the Provisional IRA in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The woman, who is believed to have married a Tunisian and has a young child, was detained a few days ago by forces fighting the last remnants of IS in the region and is understood to want to return to Ireland.

According to a well- informed source, the woman first worked as a private in the Irish Army, before transferring to the Air Corps. She is a native of one of the border counties and left the Defence Forces around five years ago.

It’s understood that it was around this time that she began to be radicalised and she is said to have left for Syria in 2016. A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said they were aware of reports of an Irish passport-holder being detained in Syria.

“Appropriate consular assistance is provided to all Irish citizens where it is possible to do so,” the spokesman added.

The Defence Forces press office said it couldn’t comment on the arrest as it didn’t yet have all the facts to hand. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently said Ireland would take back extremists or sympathisers who have travelled to war-torn regions as we shouldn’t expect our citizens “to be somebody else’s problem.”

He added he’d be “loath to revoke anyone’s citizenship provided they are a citizen by right or acquired their citizenship appropriately.”

Last January Alexandr Bekmirzaev, 45, who was born in Uzbekistan and then moved to Belarus, was arrested in Syria on suspicion of fighting for IS, which he denied. He was granted an Irish passport in 2010.

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