There is “no hard evidence” that Isis has captured a Canadian-Israeli woman fighting with the Kurds in Syria, an expert has said, as officials struggle to discover the truth of militants’ claims the woman is just one of a group of female fighters to have been kidnapped near Kobani.
Gill Rosenberg, 31, is a Canadian-born woman and resident of Tel Aviv who volunteered to fight alongside Kurdish fighters in Syria.
According to a blog linked to Isis (also known as Islamic State), which has been quoted by Israeli media reports, Ms Rosenberg was captured alongside several female fighters near Kobani. These reports have not yet been confirmed by Israeli officials, and the Canadian foreign ministry has said it is “pursuing all appropriate channels” to confirm Ms Rosenberg’s whereabouts.
“I cannot confirm that and I hope that it isn’t true,” Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon told an Israeli television channel when asked about the reports.
Charlie Winter, a researcher at counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, said that while the rumours swirl around the state of Ms Rosenberg’s capture, there is “no hard evidence” to show that she has been taken by Isis.
“No photos of her have been circulated by Isis,” Mr Winter said, “which means there is no hard evidence that she has actually been captured. At the same time, the YPG have denied the rumours, and the Free Syrian Army’s representatives in Kobani said the rumours haven’t been confirmed to them either.”
Mr Winter said despite the lack of physical evidence, the YPG and the Free Syrian Army are “not above deliberate obfuscation to make Isis look weaker,” but that it is impossible to know the truth without any official pictures or statements.
Others have refuted rumours of Ms Rosenberg’s kidnap however, claiming that she simply has no internet access and will be updating her status on Facebook as soon as she had a connection.
Oliver Brimo, who appears to be a friend of Ms Rosenberg, posted on her Facebook profile on Monday: “To those who are concerned about Gill Rosenberg’s safety. Gill is safe and she is not active on Facebook cause she has no internet access. Once she has internet access she will be updating her status [sic].”
He added: “Isis’s supporters launched a rumour on social media that she was captured in #Kobani which is not true, simply because Gill is at least 300km from Kobani [sic].”
Mr Brimo told The Independent on Monday that his source claims to have seen Ms Rosenberg "in person hours ago".
On 20 November, Ms Rosenberg posted that her Facebook page and friend requests were to be managed by someone else until she had access again, which she expected to happen approximately two weeks later, around the second week of December.
Messages of concern have flooded her Facebook page since the claims emerged of her kidnapping.
Ms Rosenberg is a former member of the Israel Defence Force. A source linked to the YPG, the Kurds’ dominant fighting force in northern Syria, told Reuters News Agency in November that Ms Rosenberg was their first female foreign recruit and had crossed into Syria to fight Isis.
Additional reporting by Reuters