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50 Britons killed fighting for Syria and Iraq militants

Shiraz Maher, who heads the project at the thinktank, said ICSR’s data showed that the British role in the spreading conflict was both undeniable and prominent.

Fifty Britons have been killed fighting for Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq over the last three years, research by the Guardian and experts from a London university has concluded.

The verified dead, who are all male, include at least eight teenagers. The youngest, Jaffar Deghayes from Brighton, is 16. His father said he died near Aleppo fighting for al-Qaida’s Syrian branch, Jabhat al-Nusra. The average age of the dead is 23.

A joint project with the thinktank the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), based at King’s College London, the research also shows that the oldest to die was 41-year-old Abdul Waheed Majeed, a truck driver from Crawley, who was a suicide bomber for Jabhat al-Nusra. He drove a bomb-laden truck into a prison in Aleppo in February 2014.

Shiraz Maher, who heads the project at the thinktank, said ICSR’s data showed that the British role in the spreading conflict was both undeniable and prominent.

“It is clear that British foreign fighters are not in Syria to take a back seat in the conflict. They are full participants in the war, serving on the frontlines while also volunteering for some of the most risky combat roles available.”

In all, ICSR believes there are more than 700 Britons who have fought in the conflict at some point in the past three years.

Though ICSR’s fieldwork documents that the 50 militants have come from across Britain, from Aberdeen to east London, Maher says that clear clusters and patterns of behaviour are now emerging from the data.

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