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Home-grown extremists died battling forces of Syrian Army as fears grow that the Syrian conflict could be a breeding ground for British terrorists, it has been claimed.
Four British citizens have died fighting for Syrian rebels linked to al-Qaeda, amid fears that the country’s crisis is increasingly attracting Islamic radicals from the UK.
UK estimates suggest as many as 300 Britons have joined rebel elements of which have fallen under the influence of Islamic extremists.
Three of the Britons, believed to be from London, were killed fighting Syrian Arab Army members near Aleppo while a fourth was shot a fortnight later, according to The Times.
They were part of 10 British extremists who fought together and had joined 20 more Britons to battle with the “al-Nusra Front”, which has links with al-Qaeda.
The paper named one of the men as Mohammed el-Araj, a 23-year-old from Ladbroke Grove, west London and said he was previously jailed for 18 months after violent protests outside the Israeli embassy in 2010.
His sister, Noor, is quoted by the paper as tweeting on August 17, soon after his death: “The love I had for him, no one will ever understand.”
A family friend expressed said the young Londoner, who used the name “Abu Khalid”, started visiting a mosque that had “crazy” views on Islam about three years ago and must have acted as he did because he was “empty”.
El-Araj, the son of an antiques dealer, is believed to have been killed when trying to ambush Syrian Army’s troops. Three other Britons, with whom he had fought alongside before, reportedly died in shelling weeks earlier.
Security services are concerned that the Syrian conflict is being used as a training ground for British extremists planning to spread jihad back in the UK.
In recent years there have been arrests of British citizens for incidents that occurred in Syria, while the Scotland Yard and MI5 have acknowledged their investigations are increasingly being linked to the country, according to The Times.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are looking into reports that a number of British nationals were killed in Syria.” He did not comment on the man named in reports.
Syrian Breaking News – 23/11/2013