independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Family of Irish teen killed in Syria will never recover body

THE devastated family of a young Irish boy killed after fleeing to Syria to fight in the revolution are trying to come to terms with the fact that they will never recover his body.

Shamseddin Gaiden (16) had been holidaying with family in Libya last summer and had been due to return to Ireland but disappeared to Syria to fight on the side of rebels in the brutal civil war.

His family moved to Ireland in 2001 to make a safe life for themselves away from the violent clashes in Libya. They set up a business, the Navan Novel Food Store in the centre of the town, and had been keen to keep their son safe in Ireland.

However, it emerged that after holidaying in Libya with family last summer, he had fled with a cousin, crossing the border from Turkey into war-torn Syria. The family received a phone call to inform them that he died in violent clashes last week. His cousin is also believed to have died.

A co-worker at the family shop in Navan said the family was deeply upset and were trying to come to terms with the fact that they will never be able to recover the remains of their eldest son. Nor could they risk travelling to Syria to seek further information, he said.

Colm O'Rourke, GAA pundit and school principal at St Patrick's Classical School in Navan, where Shamseddin should have been a Leaving Cert pupil this year, said they had had Shamseddin at the school for three years.

He had been a quiet but popular and talented young student who had a small circle of close friends.

His views on the Muslim struggle in war-torn countries were well-known by both pupils and teachers and he had not tried to hide how he felt, Mr O'Rourke said.

"It was well known that he would like to go and fight for the rebels," he revealed.

He told how Shamseddin had spent third year in Libya but had returned to Ireland and to the school. Last summer, he went to Libya and was supposed to be back in Ireland in September for the school year.

His father was deeply concerned and had tried his best to keep him in Ireland, Mr O'Rourke said.

"There is no chance of a body ever being recovered and it is a very sad situation," Mr O'Rourke added.

Irish Independent

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