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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Indian-origin British doctor dies in Syrian jail

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times  London, December 17, 2013
First Published: 22:20 IST(17/12/2013) | Last Updated: 09:20 IST(18/12/2013)

A 32-year-old British doctor of Indian origin, Shah Abbas Khan, who travelled to Syria to help civilians affected by the ongoing conflict but was arrested and jailed for over a year has died in detention.

His mother, Fatima, had approached the Indian government earlier this year to help secure his release. She had travelled to Syria to meet her son, who was due to be released shortly by Syrian authorities to British MP George Galloway, but was instead informed of his death.

Syrian authorities claimed Khan committed suicide in jail. His family rejected the claim. Khan was a specialist registrar in orthopaedic surgery at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north-west London.

Khan is the second British doctor of Indian origin to have died in Syria. Isa Abdur Rehman, who travelled to a rebel-held area in the north of the trouble-torn country earlier this year, was killed in May.

Khan’s brother, Afroze, said, “My brother was going to be released at the end of the week. We were given assurance by the Syrian government. My brother knew that. He was ready to come back home. He was happy and looking forward to being released.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said, “We are extremely concerned by reports that a British national has died in detention in Syria. We are urgently seeking clarification of this from the Syrian authorities. If these tragic reports are true, responsibility for Dr Khan’s death lies with them and we will be pressing for answers about what happened.”

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