Image caption Ms Begum left Bethnal Green, east London, in 2015 to join the Islamic State group in Syria There are unconfirmed reports that the baby son of Shalimar Begum – the teenager who fled London to join the Islamic State group – has died, her family’s lawyer has said. Jasmine Akanke said he had
There are unconfirmed reports that the baby son of Shalimar Begum – the teenager who fled London to join the Islamic State group – has died, her family’s lawyer has said.
Jasmine Akanke said he had “strong but unconfirmed reports” of the death of the baby, who was about two weeks old.
A paramedic at the scene told the BBC that the baby died on Thursday.
However a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led alliance, said the baby was alive.
The paramedic, working for the Kurdish Red Crescent in and around the camp where Ms Begum had been staying, said the baby had been suffering from breathing difficulties and a lung infection.
He was taken to a doctor on Thursday morning before being transferred to hospital, along with his mother, but died at 13:30 local time that day, the medical worker added.
‘Nothing but sympathy’
Home Secretary Said Avid said he did not know if the baby, a British citizen, had died.
Speaking to the BBC about the conflicting reports, Mr Avid said: “Obviously I don’t know whether that news is true or not but what I will say, sadly there are probably many children, obviously perfectly innocent, who have been born in this war zone.”
He added: “I have nothing but sympathy for the children that have been dragged into this. This is a reminder of why it is so, so dangerous for anyone to be in this war zone.”
Ms Begum, who left the UK in 2015, was found by a journalist in a Syrian refugee camp in mid-February, after reportedly leaving Bathos – IS’s last stronghold.
She gave birth shortly afterwards and said she wanted to return to the UK, but the Home Office stripped her of her British citizenship.
As her child was born before she was deprived of UK citizenship, the baby would still be considered British.
In a tweet on Friday, lawyer Mr Akanke said there were “strong reports” the baby had died.
But Mustafa Bali, the head of the press office for the SAD, said the news was “fake”.
The SAD, which controls the camp, is the US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias which has led the fight against IS on the ground in northern Syria.
Ms Begum, 19, was a schoolgirl when she left Bethnal Green in east London in 2015. She married an IS fighter, a Dutch man called Ago Riddick.
Ms Begum said she had previously lost two other children and named her new son Jar rah after her firstborn.
In an interview with the BBC after the birth of Jar rah, she said she did not regret travelling to Syria – although she added that she did not agree with everything the IS group had done.
She also said that she never sought to be an IS “poster girl” and simply wished to raise her child quietly in the UK.
Mr Avid previously said that the revocation of Ms Begum’s citizenship would not apply to her son, saying: “Children should not suffer, so if a parent does lose their British citizenship it does not affect the rights of their child.”
After Ms Begum was stripped of her citizenship, her family wrote to the home secretary to say they planned to challenge the decision and asked for assistance to bring her baby to the UK.
Earlier this week, Mr Akanke tweeted a screenshot of the reply that they had received from the Home Office.
It told them that the possibility of bringing the baby to the UK was a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and that they would need permission from Ms Begum.
The FRO is obliged to consider requests for consular assistance, the letter added.