Canadian Killed Fighting in Syria

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A Canadian citizen who converted to Islam has been killed while fighting in Syria, Canadian media said Wednesday.

Mustafa al-Gharib, 22, was executed by the Free Syrian Army forces amid rebel infighting, after being injured in battle and captured by an unknown FSA faction in the city of Aleppo, Canada's public broadcaster reported.

Citing unnamed sources in Syria and Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) said he had joined Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group consisting of largely foreign fighters.

A Canadian Foreign Affairs Department spokesman told Agence France Presse: "We are aware of reports that Canadians have been killed in Syria. We are following the situation closely."

Meanwhile Twitter messages from an unconfirmed source purporting to have been close to al-Gharib announced that the young man had been "executed by FSA" and that "he was killed while defending himself and his brothers from the FSA onslaught in Aleppo."

Born Damian Clairmont in Canada's Atlantic coast province Nova Scotia, al-Gharib moved with his Acadian family to Calgary in Western Canada at a young age.

After his parents split up, he reportedly dropped out of school and tried to kill himself by drinking antifreeze before converting to Islam and leaving for Syria in late 2012.

The daily National Post cited his mother as saying Canada's spy service had been investigating al-Gharib. She said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service informed her that they suspected he went to Syria, after telling her he was going to Egypt to study Arabic.

The CBC said more than 100 Canadian nationals may be fighting in Syria.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters that al-Gharib's death did not "come as a surprise" and that "there is probably more than one Canadian that is fighting with the opposition."

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