Tauqir Sharif, 31 was kidnapped by a militant sunni group
A British aid worker has been kidnapped in Syria by members of a Sunni Islamist militant group in rebel-held Idlib, he has been taken by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), his family has confirmed.
it emerged on Monday night. Tauqir Sharif, 31, from Walthamstow in East London lives and works in the north-west Syrian city, which has a large number of other British humanitarian workers who together are part of a coalition called The Unity Project
Tauqir Sharif, who is originally from London, was detained by members of the militant group on Monday evening, the Sharif family told Middle East Eye in a statement.
“We can confirm Tauqir Sharif was detained by the group known as HTS in northern Syria,” the statement said.
“He has not been kidnapped and there hasn’t been any demands or ransom. We pray to Allah he will be released sooner rather than later.”
Bilal Abdul Kareem, a journalist in Idlib who first reported the arrest, told MEE that Sharif had been detained by HTS security personnel at a house near the Atmeh refugee camp between 8.30pm and 9.30pm local time on Monday.
“There were about 15 guys that showed up and knocked on the door of the house that he was in. When he answered, they arrested him,” he said.
Sharif’s detention was also confirmed by his aid organization, Live Updates from Syria, on a post on its Instagram, which said he had been taken to an unknown location.
Sharif denies any links with armed groups or proscribed organisations. He says his aid organization employs around 200 people and runs 41 aid projects in Idlib, the last area of Syria still under the control of Syrian opposition forces.
HTS is the coalition of militant fighters, including some factions formerly aligned with al-Qaeda, that controls most of Idlib.
The group is currently conducting a wave of arrests targeting prominent figures in the province. On Monday it also detained a former commander, Abu Malek al-Tali, who split from HTS in April in opposition to a Turkish-Russian deal which had halted a Syrian government offensive against Idlib earlier this year.
Tali formed his own breakaway faction allied with Hurras al-Din, a hardline militant group aligned with al-Qaeda.
“There have been too many incidents where people have been detained, there has been no formal charge written and there has been no noticeable trial. We are calling for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham to put an end immediately to these type of detentions without a formal written charge,” he said.