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  • 'They were just a match': Couple killed in Iran crash remembered as kind, generous

    This is part of a series on the B.C. victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which crashed near Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board.The family and friends of Daniel and Faye Saket, whose lives were cut short earlier this month when their flight was shot down over Tehran, describe them as a committed and loving couple with a zest for life and adventure.The couple, who were in their 30s, lived in North Vancouver where Daniel worked for a developer and Faye was an assistant to a cardiologist at St. Paul's Hospital.What seemed to be a charmed life for the pair - drawn to Canada by its beauty and promise - ended in tragedy. The Sakets were two of the 176 people killed when Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 was shot from the sky shortly after takeoff from Tehran, Iran's capital, on Jan. 8.The couple were making their way home from holidays in Iran, where they were visiting family when they were killed.Abo Tehari, Daniel Saket's uncle, spoke about the couple at a memorial held in North Vancouver on Jan. 11."They were just a match, sometimes two people become one and Daniel and Faye, they were those people ... two bodies in one spirit," he said.Tehari said Daniel, who had a master's degree in mechanical engineering and a PhD in engineering, moved to Montreal from Iran in 2017. A three-day visit to Vancouver convinced him this was the region of Canada where he most wanted to live. He joined his uncle working at Denna Homes and settled into North Vancouver."Nothing less than a son to me and my family," said Tehari, adding that Daniel was a kind and often smiling man, willing to help family, friends and neighbours. "He was just one of a kind."Tehari had one piece of advice for his nephew upon arriving on the West Coast: Marry Faye. "She was so kind … a very good person," he said about her.So after moving to North Vancouver, Daniel returned to Iran, where Faye, née Kazerani, was still living. A few weeks later, Tehari said an invitation arrived for the couple's wedding, which he attended.The couple then returned to North Vancouver and settled into life in Canada by exploring the outdoors, particularly around Vancouver and the North Shore. They lived in a building Daniel Saket helped construct.Creative spirit Sydnie Nicoll became friends with Faye Saket through her husband's Persian family. They also ended up living in the same building."She was extremely smart, she was a professional," she said.Nicoll said Faye left her country when she was 17 to pursue school and work. It was originally reported that Faye Saket worked as a dental hygienist, but Nicoll said that wasn't true.She had hoped to get more schooling in Canada and further her career in the medical field. She had no family in Canada, while Daniel had just his uncle, aunt and cousins.Nicoll said Faye had a creative spirit, posting inspiring poetry on her social media accounts and doing amazing things with makeup for herself and others."She was an artist with it," she said. "She played a lot and was a very curious person."Nicoll also said Faye helped her understand Persian culture and integrate with her in-laws in addition to being kind, a good listener and joyful about life."She really lived it … she embodied it and so I think what she leaves behind is living life to the fullest and leaving room for play and enjoyment."Denna Homes is dedicating a bench to the couple at the Denna Club development on Hunter Street in North Vancouver.

  • Canada will respect an Iraqi government order to leave: Sajjan

    OTTAWA - Canada will respect any decision by the Iraqi government to expel foreign troops from the country, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Friday, even as reports suggested the United States was considering sanctions and cuts to military aid should Baghdad give American forces the boot.Speaking to reporters by phone during a visit to the Middle East, where he met with some of the hundreds of Canadian troops participating in the five-year fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Sajjan said Canada wants to continue its military training efforts in Iraq.Yet the minister, whose visit included stops in Jordan and Kuwait, acknowledged that "obviously the Iraqi government has concerns" and that western allies are "listening to those concerns" and trying to address them through talks.However, he added: "We are there at the request of the Iraqi government. If they were to change that, we do have to respect that."Canada's mission in Iraq has two main elements. One involves about 200 troops who have been training local forces through NATO to fight ISIL. A similar number of special forces have been working separately with Iraqi counter-terrorist units as part of the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition.Both elements saw their missions suspended last week, with orders for the troops to hunker down on military bases or, in some cases, relocate to Kuwait, over fears Iran or its proxies would retaliate for the U.S.'s having killed Iran's most important general, Qassem Soleimani.Iran did fire a volley of ballistic missiles at U.S. and coalition bases in Iraq, including one in Irbil the Canadian special-forces troops have used for years. No serious injuries were reported.While some Canadian troops have since returned to work, others remain on lockdown. Overshadowing everything are questions about whether the Iraqi government will expel all foreign troops.Following Soleimani's death, the Iraqi parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling for them to leave. While many Sunni and Kurdish parliamentarians boycotted the vote, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi voiced his own support for the resolution.Abdul-Mahdi, who announced his resignation following mass demonstrations in December but remains in a caretaker role for now, has since said he will leave the decision on whether to allow foreign troops to remain in the country to the next government.The U.S. has pushed back against calls for American and allied troops to leave the country, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that President Donald Trump's administration is considering sanctions and cuts to millions of dollars in military aid if Iraq expels its troops.While discussions with the Iraqis are ongoing, Sajjan said, "rest assured that one of the things we have discussed is that we need to continue on this mission because ... even though they do not control territory, they (ISIL) pose a risk in the region."Sajjan's visit to the region coincided with the resumption of some Canadian Armed Forces activities in Iraq, including operations by special forces soldiers and supply flights by military transport planes and helicopters.The minister emphasized, however, that the safety of Canadian troops remained the "No. 1 priority."He would not comment on whether Canada was given advance warning that Iran planned to fire missiles at the base in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, where Canadian troops were located.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press