The family of a British doctor, who died in a Syrian jail last week, have said they are devastated by their loss and are angry at the Foreign Office for ‘dragging their feet’.
Dr Abbas Khan travelled to Syria last year to aid the country’s civilians who had been affected by the ongoing dispute in the country. Within 48 hours of landing, the 32-year-old orthopedic surgeon had been detained by government forces.
Dr Khan was due to be released just three days after he died, and was set to be handed over to Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway.
His brother, Afroze Khan, was ‘distraught’ after hearing the news of his sibling’s death and said the family had still not been provided with any answers in regard to how Dr Khan died.
He said: “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.”
He added: “We are devastated, distraught and we are angry at the Foreign Office for dragging their feet for 13 months.”
Dr Khan had earlier claimed that he had been tortured whilst being held in the Syrian jail without charge and was, for much of the time, on his own. During a recent visit from his mother, the father of two weighed just five stone and struggled to walk after being forced to live in the extreme conditions.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said they are ‘extremely concerned’ by the reports of Dr Khan’s death and urged against any sort of travel to Syria.
A spokesperson said: “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.
“In November, Minister [Hugh] Robertson wrote making clear our concerns about his welfare and treatment, stressing that the regime’s failure to provide any information that would indicate Dr Khan’s continued detention is legitimate meant his position should be reviewed immediately. These requests have consistently been ignored.
“All UK consular services in Syria were suspended some time ago and we continue to advise against all travel to Syria.”