Three orphans found in Isis camp under Turkish attack may be British
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Oct. 13, 2019
Siblings found by BBC team believed to have travelled to Syria with their parents five years ago
Three orphans who are thought to be British have been found in a camp for people affiliated to Islamic State in an area of north-eastern Syria which has come under attack by Turkish-backed forces.
Amira, 10, her sister, Hiba, eight, and their brother Hamza, who appeared to be about the same age as Hiba, are believed to have travelled to Syria with their parents from London five years ago. Their mother and father, an older brother and two other sisters were killed in an air assault on Isis-controlled Baghuz which finally fell to Kurdish led-forces in March.
The children were discovered at the Ain Issa camp by a BBC reporting team which broadcast an interview with Amira on Sunday in which she described being keen to get back to the UK. She said she and her surviving siblings have a grandmother, but she did not know her name. The children speak Arabic, but speak English when they are together and Amira has traces of a London accent. Hiba showed the camera a large scar on her abdomen, indicating the violence they appear to have endured.
Shortly after their whereabouts became known, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish warplanes struck villages near the camp, 20 miles south of the Turkish-Syrian border. Some camp residents fled as clashes broke out between Turkey-backed Syrian fighters and Kurdish forces. Turkey is fighting for control of an area of Kurdish-controlled northern Syria with the tacit backing of the US, which previously counted Kurds as allies but withdrew troops from the area early last week .
The camp houses about 12,000 people, including nearly 1,000 foreign women with links to Isis and their children.
Amira, whose surname is not known, told the BBC she left London at the age of five but recalled aspects of life in the UK, saying she would “go to a park, go to a funfair, go to a restaurant”.
Speaking in English, she then described the attack in which her parents and three siblings died.
“They were hitting so much,” she said. “There was a little house and that big dusty mountain and behind it everybody was dead. In front of us was everyone who was not killed, the other people.
“We were going to pack our stuff and get out, the airplane came and bombed. So then my mum died, my littlest brother, my little brother and my sister. Then after that, all was getting on fire. We had to walk out.”
Imagining her future life, she said: “When I grow up, I want to get fruits from the tree, I like to get waterlemon [sic], I like to get strawberries, I like to get cherries, I like to get blueberries, apples, oranges and bananas.”
A UK government spokesperson said: “There may be British children in internally displaced persons camps in Syria who, because of their age, are innocent victims of the conflict. We look at all evidence to determine someone’s nationality and will examine every single case where we are asked for consular assistance, but this process is far from straightforward.”
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