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      Israeli-Canadian Reportedly Captured by Islamic State in Syria is "Safe"

      Israeli-Canadian Reportedly Captured by Islamic State in Syria is "Safe" Israeli-Canadian Reportedly Captured by Islamic State in Syria is "Safe" Israeli-Canadian Reportedly Captured by Islamic State in Syria is "Safe"
      Photo via Gill Rosenberg/Facebook

      Middle East

      Israeli-Canadian Reportedly Captured by Islamic State in Syria is "Safe"

      By John Beck

      A Canadian-Israeli dual national who has been fighting with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State in Syria declared Monday that she is "safe and secure," after reports circulated that she had been captured by extremist militants.

      A number of Islamic State-linked sources, including jihadist message boards, blogs and Twitter accounts, claimed Sunday that Gill Rosenberg had been seized in the northern Syrian border town of Kobane, which is currently under siege by the Islamic State.

      But Rosenberg took to Facebook Monday afternoon to dispel the rumors.

      Previous messages posted by Rosenberg's followers claimed the 31-year-old was safe and taking a break from social media through December.

      Other photos uploaded to the Facebook account suggested that she linked up with the armed People's Protection Units (YPG) in Iraqi Kurdistan, but that it would have been difficult for Rosenberg to reach Kobane from there. The town is besieged on three sides by the Islamic State and only possible to access via a strictly-policed Turkish border crossing.

      On Sunday, both the Canadian and Israeli government announced they were investigating Rosenberg's whereabouts. 

      The Canadian foreign ministry said in a statement that it was pursuing "all appropriate channels" to trace Rosenberg, while Israeli lawmakers said they were also unsure of Rosenberg's status.

      "I cannot confirm that and I hope that it isn't true," Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon told a local TV channel after being asked about reports of Rosenberg's capture, according to Reuters. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon told Tel Aviv-based Haaretz that Israel was also looking into the reports and seeking further information.

      Rosenberg told a number of media outlets last month she had travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan and on to Syria's Kurdish regions to join the YPG fighting the Sunni Islamist group there. She is understood to have emigrated from Israel to Canada in 2006, and later spent two years with the Israeli Defense Forces before being extradited to the US and jailed in 2009 for her part in a phone scam.

      The claims of her capture came after a weekend of heavy fighting in Kobane.

      At least 50 jihadists were killed during the clashes, including by airstrikes conducted by the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday.

      On Saturday, Kurdish Democratic Union Party spokesman Nawaf Khalil claimed the Islamic State staged a truck bombing from Turkish soil that hit the Kobani border crossing into Turkey. Turkish authorities confirmed the attack, but dismissed Khali's claims. 

      "It is known that the terrorist group, ISIS, has been attacking to many places simultaneously in Kobane and also to Mursitpinar border gate since this morning," a statement from the Turkish government press office in nearby Suruc reads, using a common acronym associated with the Islamic State's. "One of these attacks was made in the Syrian side of the border by a bomb-laden vehicle. The allegation that the vehicle in the mentioned attack reached the border gate through Turkish land is definitely a lie."

      Kurds often accuse Ankara of collaborating with the Islamic State to conduct attacks on Kobane. When the jihadist group launched a major offensive on the Syrian Kurdish border enclave in September -— with the help of modern weaponry plundered from the US trained and equipped Iraqi army — and quickly encircled the lightly-armed YPG units defending the area, Turkish authorities did not act to intervene. Instead, the Turkish military reinforced its perimeter with battalions of tanks, blocked Syrian Kurds from crossing into Kobane to defend the town, and denied repeated requests for a land corridor to transport supplies and weapons to fighters in the town. 

      Turkey's hesitation to intervene stems from the YPG's affiliation with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party that waged a 30 year insurgency against Turkish rule. Ankara would likely prefer not to have a well armed Kurdish force with links to a group they consider terrorists on their southern border.

      Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck

      Topics: middle east, syria, kobane, israeli, islamic state, gill rosenberg, ypg, canada, isis

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