By Scott Taylor
Last week it was reported that 24-year-old Nazzareno Tassone of Edmonton was killed by Daesh (also known as ISIS) fighters near the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Tassone was a Canadian volunteer fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) when he was killed in a firefight on December 21. News of Tassone’s death only broke after Daesh posted photos of his body on the Internet.
The Kurdish community in Canada have hailed Tassone as a hero and a martyr for their cause, and even Tassone’s distraught mother told the media, “He’s our hero, he really is. As much as it hurts, the pain. This is him, this is what he wanted.”
Tassone was also hailed as a hero by the usual military cheerleaders who deemed his actions to be akin to that of men bent on saving the Western world from Daesh evildoers.
The truth is that Tassone was a reckless adventure-seeker who was duped by the Kurds into accepting risks he was not qualified to undertake.
Although friends and family admit that Tassone had a lifetime obsession with all things military, the truth is that he never joined the Canadian Army. He had zero military training when he left Canada last June. Furthermore Tassone had no experience in the Middle East; even at the time of his death, colleagues admit that Tassone had only learned a handful of words in Kurdish.
The night he was killed, Tassone was with a fellow British volunteer, Ryan Lock, who also had zero previous military experience, spoke no Kurdish and had only arrived in Syria in September. He was also killed in the Daesh attack.
Let’s put this in perspective: A recruit joining the Canadian military does a three-month basic training course, then spends four to six months at an intensive battle school learning a particular combat trade. Recruits are then posted to a battalion as junior rookies to augment the more seasoned soldiers. Prior to sending a battle group to Afghanistan, the Canadian Army conducted a full twelve months of mission-specific training before these extremely professional soldiers were considered ready for front-line operations.
Tassone and Lock had but a few days of rudimentary training before they were sent into battle, and only weeks of experience before they were killed in an exposed forward position. Oh, did I mention that neither one of them spoke Kurdish?
There is no way in the world that if a foreign volunteer — let’s say a Korean — showed up in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, with zero previous military experience and unable to speak English or French, that Canadian soldiers would let them join their patrol. It would be an irresponsible endangerment of the Korean’s life, and it would also put the Canadian soldiers at risk.
Just because someone has a burning desire to become a firefighter, they would not be allowed to simply start climbing up a ladder at a three-alarm blaze.
Tassone and Lock were not bringing any martial expertise to the conflict, and they were not in a position to instruct or advise their Kurdish comrades. They were novices who did not share the Kurds’ strict Islamic faith, nor did they speak their language.
Their quest for instant adventure was their downfall, and the Kurds selfishly took advantage of that weakness. Better that two foreign volunteers get killed by Daesh than two of their own Kurdish countrymen.
The Tassone family has been urging the Canadian government to do all it can be to recover their son’s body. This would of course mean somehow negotiating a deal with Daesh with whom our Canadian authorities have no direct contact. Instead, the best bet is that the Kurdish fighters on the ground will negotiate a deal with the local Daesh commander. In the past, the recovery of foreign volunteer fighters’ bodies has involved the payment of money or the reciprocal exchange of Daesh prisoners.
Either way, it will only serve to further illustrate Tassone’s misguided naivety. By getting himself killed he will have actually benefitted the Daesh evildoers he set out to eliminate.
My advice to any other would-be noble adventurer who wishes to fight for a gallant cause is to join the Canadian Armed Forces. They are the best in the world, bar none.