The mother of a Canadian killed while secretly fighting Islamic State militants in Syria says she”s relieved she”ll finally be able to lay her son to rest months after his death.
Tina Martino says a funeral will be held at St. Andrew”s United Church in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Wednesday for her 24-year-old son, Nazzareno Tassone.
She says Tassone”s body, which was repatriated just over a week ago, will first travel from Toronto down the Highway of Heroes.
Martino says the memorial will take place exactly a year after her son left home and exactly six months after his death — a coincidence she says she was shocked to discover.
Tassone was killed on Dec. 21 in the city of Raqqa while fighting militants associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL.
The young man had told his family that he was going to Iraq to teach English, but he secretly slipped into Syria to join forces with a U.S.-backed Kurdish group called the YPG.
The YPG told Tassone”s family that his body was taken by ISIL militants, and wasn”t recovered until May.
A few weeks later, Martino received the results of an autopsy conducted in Iraq, which she said concluded her son died from a blow to the head, not a gunshot wound as she had previously been told.
The autopsy report also found her son had broken bones, cigarette burns to his body and face, and marks that suggested he had been bound, she said.
It confused the family, however, because it listed Tassone as having a different hair colour, being several inches taller than he was and more than a decade older.
Even after officials said they had confirmed his identity through dental records, Martino said she initially had her doubts that the man whose body had been brought back was her son.
An autopsy has since been conducted in Canada, and while the full results are not yet available, Martino said the coroner”s office confirmed the body is indeed that of her son.
“I”m relieved to know that it was him,” she said Tuesday. “On the other hand I was pretty depressed to find out from the autopsy that was done in Iraq what had happened to his body.”
Martino said she”s proud her son will be honoured in a procession and hopes saying goodbye will help her get closure.
“Knowing that he was coming home, a different feeling came over me, that it”s time to get back to work,” she said. “All my answers have been answered.”