Far from tales of several Indians joining Islamists to topple the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria, it has now emerged that only two persons of Indian origin are the specific cases known till now but both are British citizens.

One is Shah Abbas Khan, a British doctor of Indian origin, who entered Syria illegally through Turkey and is under detention. His mother has been calling up various authorities, including the Indian government as also the Syrian Embassy here. However as Dr. Khan is a British national, New Delhi has not pursued his case.

The second case is of another British doctor of Indian origin, Isa Abdur Rahman, who had travelled to a rebel-held area in northern Syria and was killed in May this year. Government sources said no case of Indian passport holders being involved in the Syrian strife has been brought to their notice so far.

These details emerged following reports quoting Syrian Ambassador Riad Abbas as saying Indian jihadis were present in Syria. Summoned by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Sandeep Kumar last Friday, the envoy clarified that he had spoken about jihadis in general who were coming into Turkey from Syria.

As regards comments on not sharing evidence with the Indian side as no Indian official had been to Syria for the last two years, Dr. Abbas once again claimed his comments were misreported. The evidence was with reference to the use of chemical weapons by the rebels and not relating to presence of Indian jihadis in Syria.

The Syrian envoy told Mr. Kumar that the mother of a British national of Indian origin (Dr. Khan) had once phoned him from the U.K. asking for the release of her son but he had said he could not provide any assistance as he had no information on the case.

Dr. Abbas also said he was always deeply appreciative of India’s position on Syria and expressed his appreciation of New Delhi’s support.

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