India-origin British doctor detained for treating violence victims dies in Syrian custody

A 32-year-old Indian-origin British surgeon, jailed in Syria for over a year after volunteering to help victims of violence, has died, becoming the second doctor of Indian descent to have lost his life in the war-torn country.

Dr Shah Abbas Khan, an orthopaedic surgeon from Streatham, south London, travelled to the city of Aleppo in 2012 to help civilians.

His brother Afroze said the Syrian National Security Agency had promised his release this week but it said he had died on Monday, BBC reported.

Afroze said Abbas was moved from a prison in Damascus to the National Security Agency's headquarters.

He said his mother Fatima - a British-Indian - who has been in Damascus for the last four months, was told she could visit her son on Monday and when she arrived she was told he was dead.

Fatima had also approached the Indian government for help earlier but his British nationality left his case in the hands of the UK Foreign Office.

Afroze said the family had no information about how he died.

"My brother was going to be released at the end of the week. We were given assurance by the Syrian government. My brother knew that. He was ready to come back home. He was happy and looking forward to being released," Afroze was quoted as saying by BBC.

"We are devastated, distraught and we are angry at the Foreign Office for dragging their feet for 13 months," he said.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said, "We are extremely concerned by reports that a British national has died in detention in Syria. We are urgently seeking clarification of this from the Syrian authorities. If these tragic reports are true, responsibility for Dr Khan's death lies with them and we will be pressing for answers about what happened. We have consistently sought consular access to Dr Khan and information on his detention, directly and through the Russians, Czechs and others," he said.

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