Irish military sent to Turkey in supporting role, not to extract Lisa Smith - says Tánaiste Simon Coveney
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Irish military sent to Turkey in supporting role, not to extract Lisa Smith - says Tánaiste Simon Coveney

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has told the Dáil that the Irish military have been sent to Turkey to provide support to their Turkish counterparts and not to directly extract Lisa Smith from the country.

It was reported earlier this week that Lisa Smith, who was married to an Islamic State fighter and was living in Syria, is due to be repatriated to Ireland by the Turkish government.

Smith, who was 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.

Reportedly, the 38-year-old fled the camp with her daughter when the recent Turkish military incursions began.

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Turkey recently announced that they are to deport 20 'foreign jihadists' and announced that two of them were Irish citizens, believed to be Lisa Smith and her daughter.

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"

He added that it made sense to send Irish military personnel to contact Turkish military to iron out the process.

It's understood that the Department of Foreign Affairs is believed to have issued Smith and her daughter with emergency documents in order to travel home.

Though gardai are expected to arrest Smith once she's back in the country, and will likely carry out a security assessment when she arrives in order to determine whether or not she poses a risk to the State.

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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