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British IS schoolgirl wants to return home

CCTV from Shamima Begum at Gatwick Airport in February 2015image rights
Police hit

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Ms Begum was 15 when she left the United Kingdom in 2015

One in three schoolgirls who left London for London in 2015 to join the Islamic State Group says she does not regret it but wants to return to the UK.

In an interview with the Times, 19-year-old Shamima Begum spoke of seeing "decapitated heads" in containers – but said that "they are not lazing them."

She spoke from a refugee camp in Syria and said that she was nine months pregnant and wanted to come home for her baby.

She said she had two children, both of whom had died.

She also described how one of her two schoolmates, who had left Britain, died in a bomb attack. The fate of the third girl is unclear.

"It was like a normal life"

Bethnal Green Academy students Begum and Amira Abase were both 15, while Kadiza Sultana was 16 when they left the UK in February 2015.

They flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents that they were going out for the day. Later, they crossed the border into Syria.

After she arrived in Raqqa, she was living in a house with other newlyweds, she told The Times.

"I applied for an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25," she said.

Ten days later, she married a 27-year-old Dutchman who had converted to Islam.

She has been with him ever since, and the couple fled from Baghuz, the last territory of the group in eastern Syria, two weeks ago.

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

Asked by Times journalist Anthony Loyd if her experiences of living in Raqqa's former IS stronghold met her wishes, Ms. Begum said, "Yes, it did, it was like a normal life, life They show the propaganda videos – it's a normal life.

"Every now and then there are bombs and stuff, but otherwise …"

She said to have seen her first "severed head" in a dustbin, "did not bother me at all".

"It was from a captured fighter captured on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.

"I was just thinking about what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance," she said.

"I'm not the same stupid little 15-year-old student who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago," she told Mr. Loyd.

"I do not regret coming here."

"I always thought we would die together"

However, Ms. Begum said the "repression" came as a "shock" and said she felt that the IS "caliphate" was at an end.

"I have no big hopes, they're getting smaller," she said. "And there is so much oppression and corruption that I do not think they deserve the victory."

She mentioned that her husband had been held in a prison where men were tortured.

image rights
Police hit

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Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (from left) in photos released by the police

A lawyer from the family of Kadiza Sultana said in 2016 that she was killed in a Russian air strike.

Ms. Begum told the Times that her friend had died in a bomb attack on a house where "secret stuff" was underground.

She added, "I never thought it would happen, at first I was in rejection because I always thought if we were killed, we would be killed together."

"Afraid that this baby will get sick"

Ms. Begum said losing two children was "a shock, it just came out of nowhere, it was so hard".

Her first child, a girl, died at the age of one year and nine months and was buried in Baghuz a month ago.

Her second child – the first to die – died of malnutrition three months ago at the age of eight months three months ago, the Times reports.

She told the newspaper that she had taken him to a hospital. "There was no medication and not enough medical staff," she said.

She then said she was "really overprotective" about her unborn child.

She said that concern also contributed to her decision to leave Baghuz.

"I was weak," she said. "I could not stand the suffering and hardships that it means to stay on the battlefield.

"But I was also afraid that the child I would give birth would die like my other children if I stay."

She said she was worried that her unborn baby would be sick in the refugee camp.

"That's why I really want to go back to the UK because I know it's taken care of – at least as far as health is concerned," she said.

She said that she should be born "every day now".

"I'll do anything just to get home and live peacefully with my child."

IS has lost control of most of the territory it has overrun, including its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, fighting in northeastern Syria continues where the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they have captured dozens of foreign fighters in recent weeks.


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