A British man whose father died fighting the Gaddafi regime in Libya has now lost his son to the Assad regime in Syria
BRIGHTON, United Kingdom — A British man whose father died fighting the Gaddafi regime in Libya has now lost his 18-year-old son to the struggle against the Assad regime in Syria. Abubaker Deghayes now calls on his remaining two sons, currently in Syria, to return to the UK.
Abdullah Deghayes, from Saltdean near Brighton in East Sussex, was reportedly fighting in Syria when he was shot earlier this month by a sniper. Speaking to The Anadolu Agency correspondent, Abdullah's father, Abubaker, said that he has two sons, Amir and Jafar, who are still fighting in Syria.
Originally from Libya, Deghayes immigrated to the UK as a refugee in 1986. "My father was killed by late Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 1980. I grew up as a 17 year-old in this country, and feel more at home in the UK," Deghayes said.
In January, three of his sons headed to Syria with an aid convoy. Deghayes tried to convince them to come back home, telling them to "stick to relief work and aid efforts," but his sons replied by saying, "This is not enough, we want to do more."
Earlier this week Deghayes found out via Facebook that his son was shot and killed on Syrian soil. "There was a photograph on Facebook of Abdullah lying dead on the ground on his back, in what looks like a mountainous area. Amir was also shot in the stomach, Jafar is okay," he told the AA. "They travelled without our consent," he adds.
Deghayes has 5 sons and a daughter. "Abdullah didn't discuss or speak about the situation in Syria. Jafar, who is younger, was more vocal about what is happening in Syria. They should be helped, something should be done."
On Thursday, British police launched a national campaign appealing to Muslim women to protect family members from the "dangers of Syria." Helen Ball, senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, said, "We want to ensure that people, particularly women, who are concerned about their loved ones, are given enough information about what they can do to prevent this from happening."
Abubaker Deghayes does not consider his sons extremists, and says that they went to Syria in order to help Syrian people. He thinks the main reason why they went to Syria was, "watching media and the social media and seeing the atrocities in Syria." He adds, "Maybe as a family we have a history, as my father was killed by Gaddafi, my grandfather was killed by fascist Italians, my brother was in Guantanamo, so maybe there is something genetic."
"I call on Amir and Jafar to leave Syria and come home, they can help from here," he said.
A growing number of British people are going to Syria to fight, according to the UK government. British intelligence estimates of the number of British citizens heading to Syria are around 400.
Deghayes says that the British government's policy of arresting people taking aid to Syria is wrong and states, "This policy must change. I don't think somebody going there to help out of the kindness of their heart makes them a terrorist. This is unacceptable."
According to investigations, there are approximately 11,000 foreign fighters in Syria and about 2,800 are believed to be Westerners.