Two British jihadists have become the latest casualties in the bitter infighting raging between rival factions in Syria, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) investigating claims on Twitter today that two Britons – known only as Abu Abdullah al-Biritani and Abu Jibril al-Biritani - have been killed by their fellow Islamists.
The men were fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis). It is claimed that Abu Abdullah was killed at the start of a battle with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qa’ida offshoot, while Abu Jibril died in a suicide attack by the same group. Recent months have seen fighting intensify between the two rival organisations.
The latest deaths take the total number of Britons killed in Syria to 12, the last three of whom have been at the hands of rebels, according to experts.
Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), told The Independent: “The fact that these individuals are being reported as having been killed in fighting with Jabhat al Nusrah rather than the Assad regime should highlight to those who are thinking of going to fight the high likelihood that they are unlikely to find themselves fighting a noble struggle protecting fellow Muslims from the predations of the Assad regime, but are instead going to find themselves fighting and dying as part of a brutal internecine civil war on the rebel side.”
Shiraz Maher, senior fellow at International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Kings College London, said: “The important point here is that it’s not the first time we’ve seen a Brit die as a result of the infighting, and this is likely to continue because they're still busy fighting each other. This is important to consider for people who are thinking of going out there. They might think they're going to fight forces loyal to Assad, but in truth end up fighting other rebels."
In a statement yesterday, an FCO spokesperson said: “We are aware of reports and are looking into them.” They added: “We continue to advise all British nationals in Syria to leave by whatever means.”