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Tánaiste: 'Irish military sent to Turkey in supportive role, not to extract Lisa Smith'

It was revealed yesterday that Smith is due to be repatriated to Ireland.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has told the Dáil that Irish military personnel were sent to Turkey in a supportive role and not to extract Lisa Smith from the country. 

It was revealed yesterday that Smith, who was married to an Islamic State fighter and lived in Syria until Turkey’s recent incursion into the country, is due to be repatriated to Ireland.

Smith, a former member of the Irish Defence Forces, had been captured by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria after Islamic State fighters lost control of their final stronghold.

She was being held with her two-year old daughter in the Al-Hawl displacement camp for the wives and children of Islamic State (IS) fighters.

The 38-year-old woman reportedly fled the camp with her daughter when the recent Turkish military incursion began. Yesterday, Turkey said it was in the process of deporting 20 ‘foreign jihadists’ and said two Irish citizens were among those who were to be repatriated. It’s understood that the two are Lisa Smith and her daughter. 

Speaking this afternoon, Coveney said his “primary concern” was for a ”two-year-old little girl who in my view as an Irish citizen, we have an obligation to protect. That is what is driving all of this” adding that it made sense to send Irish military personnel to contact Turkish military. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs is believed to have issued Smith and her child with emergency documents so they can travel home.

Sources have said Smith will be subject to a security assessment when she arrives back in Dublin to determine whether she poses a risk to the State.

Gardaí have been tasked with generating a risk assessment report on Smith and are in the process of gathering information from those who served with her and who were her commanders at the time. 

Smith has repeatedly claimed that she never once held a firearm or instructed ISIS fighters how to assemble, maintain or fire weapons. This is something which gardaí are investigating and she will be interviewed on her return.

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