Tauqir Sharif: British-born aid worker in Syria released on bail by extremists

Tauqir Sharif, who has been stripped of his British nationality, will stand trial in two weeks

Men fix up a banner on the side of a building calling for the release of Tauqir Sharif, a self-described aid worker stripped of his British nationality and detained by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadists, at the premises of his charity organisation in the town of Atme in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, on July 1, 2020. According to his supporters, Tauqir Sharif, 33, was detained on June 22 by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group dominant in the northwest Syria region of Idlib, while HTS has not issued any statement on his detention. Sharif, whose father is Pakistani, hails from Chingford in East London and first arrived in Syria in 2012, according to the Live Updates from Syria organisation with which he worked. Britain stripped him of his British nationality in 2017 over allegedly being aligned with an Al-Qaeda-aligned group it did not name, but he has denied those charges. / AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

Syria's Hayat Al Tahrir Al Sham says it has released a self-described aid worker stripped of his British nationality, three weeks after he was detained in the country's last major rebel bastion Idlib.

Tauqir Sharif, 33, from east London, is the founder of Live Updates From Syria, an organisation that says it provides humanitarian aid to people displaced by the country's civil war, although he has also admitted to fighting in the war-torn country in the past.

He was captured by the extremist group on June 22 without any explanation and held incommunicado for several days, according to the organisation's Facebook page, before his release on Wednesday.

Mr Sharif was reportedly charged with funding "projects that incite division", accusing him of using humanitarian aid funds to sow conflict in the Idlib region.

According to a statement released by the group, he has been released on bail and will stand trial in a local court in two weeks.
"He can, during this period, prepare his defence to be brought before the judiciary, and then issue a judicial ruling," the statement said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said after his detention that Mr Sharif was held over his alleged ties with a rival group.

Mr Sharif first arrived in Syria in 2012, according to the Live Updates From Syria organisation he founded with his wife.

Britain stripped him of his British nationality in 2017, accusing him of links to an unspecified Al Qaeda-aligned group, the British press has said. Mr Sharif has denied the allegation.

The Idlib region is home to some three million people, a large proportion of whom have been displaced from their homes by Syria's nine-year-old war and are dependent on humanitarian aid.