A British Muslim convert from London has joined an Islamist brigade fighting against Syrian government forces in Aleppo, the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday.
The man, who refused to give his real named but calls himself "Abu Yacoub," was born in Tanzania and moved to Britain as a child.
According to the paper, this is the first proven case of a British citizen being on the ground in Syria's commercial capital, which has been witnessing fierce battles between the government army and opposition fighters.
“I will stay here until I die,” he told the paper. “I want to die in Syria. We must all taste paradise, and when that happens is decided already.”
Abu Yacoub said he had converted to Islam five years ago. He traveled to Syria in April to join the revolutionary forces seeking to overthrow President Assad. The interview took place in a field hospital in the contested neighborhood of Salaheddin, where government tanks shelled locations controlled by the Free Syrian Army.
The man was fighting as part of Ahrar al-Sham, “Free Men of Syria,” a small Islamist group said to have 500 members in its ranks.
The role of foreign fighters in the Syrian conflict has been a source of dispute among opposition fighters, the newspaper said, because they can be seen as a liability by attracting suspicion from Western government that support the uprising. These governments have repeatedly raised concern about the presence of foreign Jihadi fighters in Syria.