Family of Canadian killed in Syria seeks help repatriating body

The family of a Canadian man killed fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria is urging the federal government to help repatriate his remains.

Kurdish forces, known as YPG confirmed that Nazzareno Tassone, 24, was killed alongside Briton Ryan Lock, 20, in December.

In a letter to Tassone’s family, the YPG said their bodies had been taken by IS.

Tassone left Canada for Turkey last June to fight with the Kurdish forces.

His uncle, Frank Tassone, and his sister, Giustina Tassone described him respectively as someone who was “goofy” and a “giant goofball” as a child who grew up to take a keen interest in the military and international affairs.

Ms Tassone said her brother had a strong sense of right and wrong, which is what led him to volunteer with the Kurdish fighters.

“He believed every human deserved decency and common rights,” she said.

Her brother, who lived in Edmonton, told the family he was travelling to Turkey to teach English.

Although his family had their suspicions over the past six months, he kept his involvement with Kurdish forces a secret.

While she wishes he had been open with what he had chosen to do, she knew he did not want his family to worry.

“We worried anyway,” she said.

Image caption Briton Ryan Lock was killed alongside Canadian Nazzareno Tassone in Syria

The family has started a Facebook page to urge the federal government to help bring Tassone’s remains back to Canada, and have reached out to Global Affairs Canada and their local member of Parliament.

“I want my nephew home so we can bury him,” his uncle said. “I don’t understand why they would take his body.”

In a letter to Tassone’s family dated 23 December, the YPG say that he died along with Lock and three other fighters in an offensive against IS on 21 December in Jaeber village in the battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa, and that the bodies were taken by IS.

The YPG offered condolences to his family, saying that he “crossed continents for the destiny of our people and humanity”.

Canadian officials say they have contacted the family and that consular officials are in touch with local authorities to gather more information about the circumstances.

A spokeswoman for the federal government said consular efforts are limited by the civil war in Syria but that there were ongoing attempts to assist the family.

Lock’s family is also asking for help from the YPG and the UK government to help repatriate his remains.

Tassone is the second Canadian volunteer fighter to die in Syria.

In 2015, Ontario native John Gallagher, 32, was killed in Syria while volunteering with the YPG.