SYDNEY: An Australian man killed in the Syrian conflict was a former soldier who went absent without leave several years ago, a senior official revealed Wednesday.
Reports said that Caner Temel, 22, was killed on the front line in January after traveling to Syria to fight in the civil war, joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
“From his name and from the photograph that the media showed, that matched the name and a photograph we had of a young soldier who served three years ago,” Assistant Defense Minister Stuart Robert told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“He only served for 17 months. He went absent without leave in September 2010. And of course, if you go absent without leave, after 28 days if we can’t find you, we’ll discharge you,” Robert added.
Robert said Temel would have done basic training, including construction work, arms training and a limited amount of explosives work.
He said Temel’s reasons for leaving the Australian military were unclear, nor was it known when he went to Syria or whether he was a dual passport holder.
But Robert said the case highlighted the government’s fears over the prospect of Australians traveling to Syria to fight in the 3-year-old conflict. “It’s deeply concerning,” he said.
“If reports are correct – and some commentators are speaking of up to 100 Australian citizens who’ve chosen to join the fight in Syria – that is a concern because it’s clearly a criminal act if you go and serve with a foreign military.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 20, 2014, on page 8.