Canadian tourist held in Syria

OTTAWA (AFP) – A Canadian tourist is being held in Syria, Ottawa said last Saturday, after local media reported the man had travelled to a village close to the Lebanese border in areas controlled by President Bashar al-Assad.

Canadian media said there have been no signs of British Columbia native Kristian Lee Baxter, 44, since December 1.

Described as an “adventure” traveller by his loved ones, Baxter has made no contact since arriving at a Syrian village where his brother-in-law was born. He had travelled there despite the brutal war raging in Syria since 2011.

A Global Affairs Canada spokesman told AFP “a Canadian citizen has been detained in Syria”, without providing any further details for confidentiality reasons.

Since the Syrian war broke out, Ottawa has urged Canadians to avoid travelling to the country. The conflict has killed over 360,000 people and displaced millions more.

“The security situation across Syria significantly restrains the Canadian government’s ability to provide consular assistance,” Global Affairs said in response to a query, while noting that consular services were provided to relatives and the individual concerned “as much as possible”.