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British aid worker Tauqir 'Tox' Sharif held by HTS in Syria, released Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

British aid worker Tauqir 'Tox' Sharif held by HTS in Syria, released

Tauqir Sharif has lived in Syria with his family since 2012 [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 November, 2020

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Tauqir Sharif had been held by the HTS militant group since August.

British aid worker Tauqir Sharif was released on Tuesday after being held for more than three months by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militant group in Syria's Idlib province, his family have said.

Sharif, who is also known as 'Tox', was detained by HTS on 11 August as he attended a hearing relating to his earlier arrest in June. 

"Alhamdulillah @toxaidworker has been released from prison by HTS & is on his way back to his family in #Syria. Jazakallahu khair & thank you to everyone for your continuous support & prayers. We really appreciate it," his family said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

Sharif's family allege that he was tortured and mistreated during his first period in detention, which lasted just under a month.

Sharif, from Chingford in East London, first arrived in Syria in 2012, according to his Live Updates From Syria organisation, which he founded with his wife.

The UK stripped him of his British nationality in 2017, accusing him of links to an Al-Qaeda-aligned group but did not specify which organisation he was allegedly aligned to.

Sharif has denied any links to armed groups operating in Idlib, saying he came to Syria motivated by the suffering of civilians he saw in media and sought to carry out aid work there.

He has described the government claims as "unfair" and "racist" but admitted to carrying an AK-47 for "protection", saying he was threatened by militias including the Islamic State group.

The revocation of Sharif's citizenship means that he and his family are stuck in Idlib province, with reports that his eldest daughter has also been denied British citizenship.

"Tauqir Sharif was freed by HTS today. He's been missed by his family, community and projects he oversees. May Allah bless him for his work and patience," wrote British activist Moazzam Begg on Twitter.

"Abdul Kareem Next, #FreeBilalAbdulKareem. We must all continue to work to seek his release," he added, referring to American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem, who was also detained by HTS in August.

Abdul Kareem became a target for HTS after he published an interview with Racquell Hayden Best, Sharif's wife, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

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