UK

Two Britons 'killed in Islamic State fighting' in Syria

Abu Abdullah
Image caption Abu Abdullah has appeared in IS promotional videos posted online

Two British men have reportedly been killed while fighting alongside Islamic State militants in Syria.

The men - known as Abu Abdullah al-Habashi, 21, and Abu Dharda, 20 - were from London.

IS sources and social media accounts associated with the group suggest they died in recent days in US air strikes in the border town of Kobane.

About 27 Britons are understood to have lost their lives after joining the jihadists.

The reports of the men's deaths could not be independently verified and the BBC was unable to contact their families.

Al-Habashi grew up in north London in a British-Eritrean family and converted to Islam when he was 16.

In August, BBC Newsnight reporter Secunder Kermani communicated with al-Habashi via an instant messaging service, at which point he said he had gone to Syria nine months earlier and had been fighting both there and in Iraq.

Al-Habashi, who is thought to have appeared in at least two IS videos posted online, said at that time he had moved to be at the "forefront" of the fighting.

The government believes more than 500 Britons have joined the conflict in Syria, but al-Habashi said he was "one of the few" to have fought in Iraq.

He told Newsnight his family had tried to convince him to return home from the Middle East, but said he was happy there and that there was "no going back".

His mother was said to be totally devastated by his decision to join IS.

Dharda comes from a British-Somali background and grew up in west London.

He travelled to Syria in December 2013, entering via Turkey.

Newsnight's Secunder Kermani said it was believed that Dharda was questioned by counter-terrorism police at a British airport as he left but was allowed on his journey because they were satisfied with the explanation he gave for the purpose of his trip.

Police have told the BBC they are unable to comment on individual cases.

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