A father from Brighton who lost two sons during fighting in Syria is on his way to the Middle East to bring home his remaining son, currently fighting with Islamist extremists against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Abubaker Deghayes is currently thought to be in Libya, on his way to northern Syria, in an audacious mission to "rescue" Amer, 20, who travelled to the Middle East in January last year.

His other two sons – Jaffar, 17, and Abdullah, 18 – were killed fighting Syrian government forces in separate incidents last year. Amer is the last surviving member of a group of four jihadis known as the "Brighton Boys", who secretly travelled to Syria last year to fight for the al-Qaida-affiliate Jabhat al-Nusr. The Observer has also learned that a 17-year-old girl from Brighton – described as a close friend of the Deghayes family – was recently stopped at Gatwick on suspicion of attempting to join jihadis in Syria. The incident was not publicly reported, raising questions over precisely how many other British teenagers have been intercepted while attempting to travel to Syria.

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