On average, one jihadi fighter from the United Kingdom is killed every three weeks in conflicts in both Syria and Iraq, where the Islamic State has taken over many areas, according to a new study that has been tracking foreign fighters since mid-2013.
At least 16 British militants have died in the war zones since the start of this year, reports the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) in London.
That means three fighters from the UK are being killed in the ongoing conflict every two months.
The ICSR estimated 24 Britons are believed to have been killed in the Syrian civil war. In most of the 24 cases, families have reported the death of their relatives.
Renowned behavioural psychologist Cass Sunstein has tried to discover the reasons that have pushed Britons to join militant groups in Iraq and Syria. He said for most fighters, poverty or a lack of educational prospects were not obvious motivating factors.
According to the ICSR, many of the 23 slain Britons had good jobs and some had been enrolled, or had already completed, higher education.
Shiraz Maher, who works with the ICSR, said most of the British fighters who have been killed in Syria and Iraq had a better future than other dead militants from Europe.
“These people come from every background imaginable, but when you compare Brits to other Europeans, it’s clear that those from this country tend to be better educated, more affluent, and have greater social mobility than their peers on the continent,” Maher explained.
He said the actual number of British militants who had been killed might be higher than 24, as it’s hard to verify deaths that had been reported on social media sites.
“We think it’s incredibly likely that others have died that we’ve not heard of. In some of these cases, we found out by pure chance,” he said.