Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict

 

The father of an 18-year-old Brighton man killed while fighting alongside his brothers with rebel forces in Syria has said his son was "a martyr" who died "for a just cause".

Abdullah Deghayes, who left the UK for Syria with his 16-year-old brother Jaffar in January, is thought to have been killed in combat within the past few weeks, shortly after his 18th birthday. His older brother, Amer, 20, who is understood to have gone to fight in Syria after joining an aid convoy to the region last year, has also been wounded, the boys' father Abubaker Deghayes said.

Mr Deghayes said that the brothers had gone to Syria "of their own free will" without the consent of their parents, but had not been in contact with any groups encouraging young Muslims to fight in Syria.

Yesterday, the brothers' aunt told of how their mother had been "distraught" to discover that Abdullah and Jaffar had gone missing, later discovering that their passports were gone. 

"They are in contact with their mum," Amani Deghayes told The Independent. "Their dad says he has tried speaking to them, that he would tie them up and bring them back if he could."

Abdullah is the nephew of former Guantanomo Bay detainee Omar Deghayes, but Ms Deghayes said that though the brothers' decision to go to Syria had not been influenced by him but was "a symptom the current times".

Speaking outside his home in Brighton yesterday their father said he had "never encouraged" his sons to go and fight but felt "some comfort" knowing Abdullah had fought for a "just cause".

"The cause is to help those who are being bombed daily by Assad and killed by his bombings and air raids and soldiers for nothing except to ask for their freedom," he said. "I hope this was his intention, I hope he is rewarded and I hope he is in peace now."

Friends of Abdullah, who also has a twin brother, a younger brother and an older sister, reacted with shock at the news, with several posting messages on Facebook and Twitter. Ms Amani said that Abdullah had been a "charming, and very spirited" boy who had never appeared have been overtly "political".

Abdullah Deghayes is believed to have been killed earlier this month Abdullah Deghayes is believed to have been killed earlier this month
"The twins were really into exercise, and bodybuilding, and eating healthily," she said. "I remember they didn't want to eat any chocolate, they were so worried about their diet…He wasn't really a political boy. The twins were always very cheeky….I was really shocked [to hear they had gone to Syria]. He was really fun-loving, social, he had lots of friends."

She said that Abdullah's brother Amer, who was the first of the brothers to fight in Syria, had first gone to Turkey with an aid convoy in September. "Amer was really into his gym and building his muscles. The next thing I knew he was getting involved in serious stuff in Syria."

Amer is understood to have suffered a bullet wound in the stomach in the same battle in which Abdullah was killed. Although the brothers were said to have been in touch with their parents via Facebook, his current condition was not clear yesterday, but their father said that the youngest brother fighting in Syria, 16-year-old Jaffar, was "ok".

In total, it is believed that 400 British nationals have travelled to Syria since conflict broke out in early 2011, and of these 400, it is estimated 20 have died so far.

Omar Deghayes, who is currently in Tripoli, said he had only heard one eyewitness account of what happened to Abdullah.

He said: "Abdullah Deghayes was a young man full of life, he had a bright future ahead, he was just like any 18-year-old, but his heart was different.

"He couldn't sit still watching the news of the gross injustice taking place in Syria.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday reiterated warnings to British citizens not to travel to Syria and said fighters returning to the UK were an "increasing threat to our own national security".

"Where we are aware of people proposing to travel to Syria we can take action about it, including depriving people of their passports, including if they are people who are resident in the UK but not British nationals, the Home Secretary can cancel their leave to remain in the UK," he said.

Read more: 'We will be martyrs', say rebel fighters
Nations fail to honor financial pledges to Syrian refugees
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Software Development Project Manager - Kingston Upon Thames

£55000 - £60000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Experienced Software Dev...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate Start - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders