Killed Kiwi's identity kept secret

JO MOIR
Last updated 15:02 08/06/2014

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The identity of a Kiwi killed while fighting in Syria is being kept secret by Government officials.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it was aware of "unconfirmed reports" of a New Zealander being killed in Syria and his family had been provided consular assistance.

All information about the New Zealander who died would remain a closely guarded secret to protect the family's privacy.

Details about what happened in Syria and when the man died were being kept under wraps for national security reasons, MFAT said.

While the number of New Zealanders involved in the Middle East conflict was unknown, MFAT said a Kiwi, who is in Australia, had been barred from departing to Syria by the Australian authorities.

A public statement made by the permanent representative of Syria in New York that mentions New Zealanders dying in the war was translated and released by MFAT.

"Nobody could ignore anymore the threats represented by terrorist groups operating inside Syria, through borders with neighbouring countries.''

"Thousands of innocent Syrians got killed, thousands were wounded, because of so called cross border terrorists, they call themselves roundly speaking jihadists, they are not, they are criminals, mercenaries coming from 83 foreign nations all over the world.''

"...some of the terrorists who got killed came from Burkina Faso, some of them came from New Zealand, one guy came from Lithuania, so you see, this is just an indication to let you understand how absurd the issue we are dealing with,'' the statement said.

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key said MFAT was dealing with all queries about the Kiwi man's death and would not comment whether Key was aware of the details of the incident.

However earlier this year Key said New Zealanders have been identified as fighting alongside anti-Government forces in Syria. In some instances the Department of Internal Affairs had cancelled their passports.

Rebel factions have been battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

In February Key refused to quantify the number of Kiwis involved but admitted there were a "small number of New Zealanders who have fought with the rebels in Syria''. 

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