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Michigan woman, 33, killed in Syria battle

Family of Nicole Mansfield says FBI confirmed she died while fighting with rebels against Assad regime

Free Syrian Army soldiers in Idlib province, Syria, in February (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)
Free Syrian Army soldiers in Idlib province, Syria, in February (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

The family of a 33-year-old Michigan woman said Thursday that the FBI had confirmed that she was killed while fighting with rebel forces in Syria.

The woman was identified as Nicole Lynn Mansfield of Flint. Mansfield was reportedly killed amid clashes with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the northwestern city of Idlib.

Images uploaded to Syrian news sites showed pictures of Mansfield’s passport and a Michigan driver’s license. Syrian news reports said that Mansfield and two other westerners killed with her, including a British national, were fighters for the opposition to Syria’s government.

David Speelman of Flint said he is Mansfield’s cousin. He told The Associated Press that FBI agents visited family members Thursday and informed them of her death.

FBI Detroit spokesman Simon Shaykhet told AP he can’t comment on the matter.

Speelman’s mother, Monica Mansfield Speelman, told the Detroit Free Press that her niece was a convert to Islam who married an Arab immigrant several years ago, but later divorced him. Reuters quoted the deceased woman’s aunt as saying, “I’m just devastated.”

The US State Department said in response to the reports that “we are aware of the case. As we do in all such cases, we are working through our Czech protecting power in Syria to obtain more information, and we appreciate the efforts of the Czech on behalf of our citizens. Because of privacy considerations we are unable to comment further.”

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