A British surgeon and father of two from London who traveled to Syria to help civilians has died in Syrian custody after being imprisoned for more than a year, according to his family.
The brother of orthopedic surgeon Abbad Khan, 32, told the BBC that Syrian authorities had promised his release this week but they told the family on Monday the doctor had died. Khan was arrested by government forces within 48 hours of arriving last year in the northern city of Aleppo, a heavily contested city in Syria’s two-and-a-half year civil war, where he planned to work as an emergency surgeon. He later told his family that he had been tortured while detained.
A British diplomat, Hugh Robertson, sharply criticized the Syrian government in televised remarks Tuesday, the Associated Press reports, saying Syria “in effect murdered a British national.”
“There is no excuse whatsoever for the treatment that he has suffered by the Syrian authorities,” Robertson said.
Earlier Tuesday, the British foreign office, which the Khan family had criticized for not taking sufficient action to free Khan, said earlier that it was “extremely concerned” by reports of Khan’s death.
“We are urgently seeking clarification of this from the Syrian authorities,” a spokesperson told BBC. “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.”