White Helmets denies links to UK-born Syria aid worker

White Helmets denies links to UK-born Syria aid worker
Tauqir Sharif says he is stuck in Syria, after the UK government revoked his passport.
2 min read
06 March, 2019
Tauqir Sharif lives in opposition Idlib province [Twitter]

Syrian civil rescue team, The White Helmets, have denied reports that an British-born aid worker Tauqir Sharif is a member of their organisation 

The White Helmets, officially-known as the Syrian Civil Defence, said on Wednesday that it had no links with Sharif, following social media reports that claim he was a member of the rescue team.

"The SCD would like to state that... Tauqir Sharif, has never been listed as a volunteer with the SCD, and that the internal regulations provide that only Syrian nationals are accepted as SCD volunteers," the White Helmets said in a statement.

"The continuation of such bogus posts, which are made to systematically spread disinformation, is only part of the constant campaign targeting the independence of the SCD and its operations."

Tauqir Sharif moved to Syria seven years ago, when Bashar al-Assad's regime began its brutal suppression of opposition uprisings in the country, saying he wanted to help civilians. 

Sharif insists he has proof that he is an aid worker and not a foreign fighter, but the British government revoked his passport in 2017 claiming it had intelligence that he is involved in an al-Qaeda-linked group.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) control much of Syria, a jihadi opposition group, which contains a group that was formerly an al-Qaeda affiliate.

Sharif 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.

Sharif, who has a family, is stuck in Idlib province, while his eldest daughter is also reportedly denied British citizenship.

"We chose to come to Syria because of the gruesome scenes that we were seeing on our television screens," Sharif told the BBC in 2017.

A photograph claiming to show Sharif wearing a helmet posing next to the SCR's logo.

News of Sharif's case comes after British teenager Shamima Begum had her nationality revoked, following her move to Islamic State group-controlled territory in 2015.

Begum is currently stranded in a Syrian refugee camp with a new born and unable to return to the UK.