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Newborn son of British Islamic State teenager Shamima Begum dies

Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman and Begum's family lawyer say her baby has died
Begum's son, who was born just over three weeks ago, died in al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria (AFP)

The newborn son of Shamima Begum, a British teenager who joined the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and has sought to return to the UK, has died, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has told Reuters.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said that the child, who was born just over three weeks ago and named Jarah, had died, the news agency reported on Friday.

Begum's family lawyer, Mohammed Akunjee, also confirmed the news on Twitter, saying on Friday that the infant's "death has been confirmed".

Earlier in the day, Akunjee tweeted that Begum's son died in al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria where the two are being held after their flight from IS territory.

"We have strong but as yet unconfirmed reports that Shamima Begums [sic] son has died," Akunjee tweeted at that time. "He was a British citizen."

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The child is believed to have died on Friday morning. He was named after one of two other children Begum gave birth to with her Dutch IS husband. Both those children also died.

Begum was 15 when she left London to travel to Syria, along with two other British teenagers.

Now 19, Begum expressed her desire to return home last month.

Her case has sparked a national debate about whether she and other UK citizens who joined IS should be allowed to return from Syria.

On 19 February, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Begum was stripped of her citizenship, a move that has been called illegal as it would leave her stateless.

British activists and political commentators were quick to slam Javid on Twitter following the news of Begum's son's death.

The fate of Begum has raised questions around the ethical, legal and security questions governments face when dealing with IS supporters who wish to return to their home countries, often with their children.

In 2016, 14 people were deprived of their British citizenship on the grounds that their presence in the UK was "not conducive to the public good," MEE has previously reported.

That number swelled to 104 people in 2017, according to government figures.

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