New Zealander Killed in Syrian War; PM John Key Accused of 'Broadening Spying Powers'

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By Reissa Su | June 10, 2014 12:50 PM EST

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key revealed more than one Kiwi has been killed during the war in Syria. According to reports, one Kiwi is believed to be dead. Mr Key said there may be more casualties as a small group of New Zealanders continue to fight.

Reuters
Smoke rises beside a Free Syrian Army tank due to shelling from forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the southern suburb of Aleppo, September 25, 2013.

Reports said due to the high death toll, the United Nations has given up counting the bodies. The United Nations said a Syrian government official told them that "of the terrorists killed in Syria, some came from New Zealand."

Mr Key said officials have lost contact with him as well as his family. According to Syrian Solidarity, the group only knows one New Zealander, Weiming Chen, who was born in China and reportedly fighting with the rebels.

The prime minister refused to identify him as the man who was killed in Syria or if he was one of the fighters. Mr Key only speculated that the man could have been part of the Red Cross or working with another humanitarian organisation. It was also possible that the Kiwi reportedly killed was a doctor providing humanitarian medical services.

In January, 22-year-old Amira Ali was the first New Zealander killed in Syria. Reports said it was believed she had died in Aleppo. Her mother was a citizen of New Zealand. Her family said Ali told them she was going to Syria for a humanitarian mission.

A 3News report said two brothers from Auckland had their passports confiscated before they could have the chance to fight and another New Zealander was arrested in Australia as he was about to leave.

Mr Key believes even if New Zealanders in Syria are a small group, it is possible to have more casualties. The New Zealand government has refused to identify the Kiwi who was killed in Syria for purposes of privacy.  

Meanwhile, an activist group has accused the New Zealand government for withholding information about Kiwis in Syria. The Syrian Solidarity said the government is allegedly controlling information to serve their own interests. 

Syrian Solidarity is against the military regime in Syria. Ali Akil said there is a "lack of context" around Kiwis fighting in conflict areas. He claimed the New Zealand government is trying to "broaden spying powers." 

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(Photo: Reuters / Malek Alshemali)
Smoke rises beside a Free Syrian Army tank due to shelling from forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the southern suburb of Aleppo, September 25, 2013.
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