Ottawa aware of reports Canadians detained in Mosul
Published Wednesday, July 19, 2017 10:10AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 19, 2017 3:51PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Global Affairs Canada is looking into a report that two Canadian women are among a group of female Islamic State militants detained following the Iraqi forces' victory in Mosul.
"We are aware of these media reports. Canadian officials are contacting local authorities and gathering additional information," Natasha Nystrom, a spokeswoman for the foreign affairs department, wrote in an email to CTV News.
A Kurdistan24 media report says the women were captured in a Mosul tunnel on July 13 and were wearing explosive belts.
The group also included five German citizens, three Russian nationals, three Turks, a Chechen, and six from Libya and Syria, according to the report, which cited an Iraqi official named Haider al-Araji.
Iraq's ambassador to Canada, who spoke to reporters Wednesday morning, said he is consulting the country's security ministries in Baghdad, but they hadn't provided any precise information.
"There is no official, dependable information," Abdul Kareem Kaab said at the Iraqi embassy in Ottawa.
Kaab said he doesn't know how many Canadian fighters are in Iraq and had no information from Canadian officials about women travelling from Canada to his country.
A Public Safety Canada report from last summer says Canada was "aware of approximately 180 individuals with a nexus to Canada who were abroad and who were suspected of engaging in terrorism-related activities" at the end of 2015.
"The Government was also aware of a further 60 extremist travelers who had returned to Canada," said the 2016 Public Report On The Terrorist Threat To Canada.
Women make up about 20 per cent of total extremist travellers from Canada, the report said.
Iraqi forces declared victory in Mosul over Islamic State militants early last week.