Agonising hunt by US father for children trapped in Isis enclave

In late March 2015, Bashiurul Shikder made an urgent call home to ask about his wife and children. The 37-year-old American had just completed a pilgrimage to Mecca and his repeated messages to his wife in Florida had gone unanswered for over a week. Come home, his family told him. They’re in hospital. A short while later came the truth: “They finally told me, ‘they’re gone’,” said Shikder. “She’d taken them to Isis.”

In the anguished following days and the four long years since, Shikder’s search for his children, Yusuf, then seven, and Zahra, then three, has been a bitter journey, which he has kept to himself until now. As the ground held by Islamic State shrank, Shikder desperately followed his family’s retreat to the last enclave of the final town held by the group – a battered pocket of an eastern Syrian town named Baghuz.

That’s some Mom alright.

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