United Kingdom

Fears ISIS could kidnap British orphans as 800 jihadi brides and their children flee Syrian camp

Three British orphans could be kidnapped by ISIS after 785 jihadi brides and their children fled a camp in northern Syria today after shelling by Turkish forces. 

Ten year-old Amira, her sister Heba, eight, and brother Hamza, were taken from London in 2014 to the so-called caliphate, before their parents, along with three other siblings, died at the last IS stronghold at Baghouz in March.

Amira, who can barely remember her life in London, unable to recall her grandmother's name, spoke to the BBC just days ago of her desperation to come home.

But the Ain Issa camp, which housed 24 foreign orphans from IS, was plunged into peril today, with Kurdish-authorities reporting Turkey-backed militia had broken the gates open and 'Daesh elements' had attacked guards.

Children among 24 orphans linked with foreign fighters of the Islamic State and cared for by volunteers, gather to eat at a camp in the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa, on September 26

The Kurdish-led administration said 785 foreigners affiliated with ISIS escaped Ain Issa (pictured), north of Raqqa, where they were being held following Turkish shelling today

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, as seen from the Turkish border town of Akcakale today, as military action continues

In an interview broadcast on Sunday by the BBC, Amira spoke in harrowing detail of the last days at Baghouz, where ISIS fought to the death against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia now under siege by Turkey. 

'They were hitting so much,' Amira told the BBC. 'We were going to pack our stuff and get out, the airplane came and bombed. So then my mum died, my littlest brother, my little brother and my sister. Then after that, all was getting on fire. We had to walk out.'

She continued: 'There was a little house and a big dusty mountain and behind it everybody was dead. And then after that I saw my brother, he was walking up, he was running up because he knows my Mum was dead there. But everything he could find they were hitting with bombs and guns.

'He just ran in. And when he ran in that little house broke and everything went on fire so he died.'  

The BBC reported it had informed British authorities of the children's whereabouts, but today 'foreign masked men on motorbikes are encircling the camp,' according to Save the Children. 

The NGO warned of 'a danger that children of foreign nationals could now be lost in the chaos.'

Sara al-Abdullah, a volunteer caring for 24 orphaned children linked with foreign fighters of the Islamic State (IS) group, feeds one of them at a camp in the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa 

A volunteer caretaker looking at one of 24 orphaned children reportedly linked with foreign fighters of the Islamic State (IS) group, at a camp in the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa last month

The Kurdish authorities claimed that 'mercenaries' had attacked camp guards and opened the gates so that almost 800 ISIS families could flee.

'The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands (of people) from families of IS,' a Kurdish administration statement said.

'Some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted' the camp.

It said the Ain Issa camp was 'now without guards' and 785 relatives of IS jihadists had fled.  

In addition to the three British orphans who had been living there, it is believed the ISIS 'matchmaker' Tooba Gondal, 25, from Walthamstow, north London, was also there with her two children.

Aid groups have warned of another humanitarian disaster in Syria's eight-year-old war if the offensive is not halted.

It is believed the ISIS 'matchmaker' Tooba Gondal (pictured), 25, from Walthamstow, who reportedly lured Shamima Begum to Syria, was in the camp with her two children after she was caught trying to get to Turkey following the fall of Baghuz

A volunteer caretaker who looks after 24 orphaned children, linked with foreign fighters of the Islamic State (IS) group, covers her face as she carries a child at a camp in the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa last month

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said the exodus sparked by the fighting had grown to 130,000 people and it was preparing for that figure to more than triple.

'We have moved into a planning scenario where up to 400,000 people could be displaced within and across the affected areas,' spokesman Jens Laerke told AFP.

Some 12,000 IS fighters - Syrians, Iraqis as well as foreigners from 54 countries - are detained in Kurdish prisons, according to official Kurdish statistics.

They claim they have already had to divert men, who would otherwise stand guard at those prison, to the front to fight the Turks and their allies. 

Displacement camps meanwhile host some 12,000 foreigners - 8,000 children and 4,000 women.

SDF fighters have taken mounting losses against the vastly superior military firepower of Turkey, which has defied mounting international protests and the threat of US sanctions in pressing on with its offensive.

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