Brother pays moving tribute to tragic doctor

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The brother of a British doctor who died while being held in custody in Syria has paid a moving tribute to him, describing him as “our star”.

Dr Abbas Khan was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death.

The Syrian regime claimed he took his own life but his family believe he was murdered.

The 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November last year in the ancient city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. His death was announced on December 17.

At a packed funeral prayer service at Regent’s Park mosque in London, his brother, Shahnawaz Khan, said: “Last night I sat down to undertake the morbid task of writing a eulogy for my brother.”

He added: “My brother, to us, was our star. His star shone on our family.”

Dr Khan was described by his brother as the “kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met”.

Mr Khan spoke of “the evil that has taken him from us so cruelly” and said the family had been through “one of the most difficult times we have ever seen”.

The doctor’s mother Fatima has dismissed a claim by Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad that her son killed himself.

Earlier this month, the family revealed a letter in which the doctor expressed his optimism at being released and his hopes of being home in time for Christmas.

Dr Abbas leaves behind wife Hanna, 30, son Abdullah, six, and daughter, Rurayya, seven.

In a very distressed state outside the mosque, Dr Khan’s mother wailed and as people tried to comfort her, she said: “Nobody help me, I love my son. I am the loser. I’m the failure.”

She added: “I beg everybody. I touch everyone’s feet. Please give me my son.”

A man then wrapped his arm around her and brought her to a car and she was driven away.

Speaking outside the mosque before the prayers, family solicitor Nabeel Sheikh said: “The family would like to express their sincere gratitude at the level of support they’ve received this morning.

“There is a very, very large turnout and I think that is testament to the significance of this case and the emotions that are running high at the moment.

“It is a very tragic set of circumstances under which Dr Abbas Khan passed away. Tomorrow the inquest will be formally opened and then the process will start of collating evidence for the coroner to finally reach a judgment.

“The family is very, very grateful for the level of support they’ve received from the British public.”