Universities and community leaders have been left reeling after it was reported two former Lancashire students had died in Syria.
It is understood that brothers Khalif Shariff, 21, and 18-year-old Abdulrahman travelled to the war-torn country in November 2014.
They are now believed to have been killed fighting for ISIS.
Their parents are understood to have been told by ISIS militants that University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student Abdulrahman has been killed.
They also fear Khalif, a former law student at Lancaster University, has also died, after they were reportedly told he was missing, thought to be dead.
A spokesman for Lancaster University said: “Lancaster University can confirm that Khalif Shariff was enrolled as a first year student in the autumn of 2014 but left the University shortly after the commencement of his course.”
A UCLan spokesman said: “The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) can confirm that Abdul Rahman Shariff was enrolled as a first year student in the autumn of 2014 but left the University shortly after the commencement of his course.”
The spokesman added: “UCLan takes the issue of extremism very seriously and is alert to it in all its forms whether based on politics, religion or the persecution of ethnic minorities or those of a different sexual orientation.
“While the university is vigilant to the possibility of extremist propaganda it seeks to balance its legal obligations regarding freedom of speech and unlawful discrimination with those regarding anti-terrorism legislation, criminal offences and the safety and security of students and staff.
“The university manages the challenges of extremism through its regulatory framework, engagement with the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy and through the active promotion of good inter-faith and community relations.”
Ali Amla, founder of Lancashire-wide Christian Muslim Encounters, said: “My initial reaction is a real upset at the loss of young people’s lives.
“For me, these are two young people and wasted lives.
“Had they been deterred from going out, then they might have played a much-needed role for society in Britain today.
“My heart goes out to the families.
“I do believe, without knowing the whole situation of how they were recruited, I can’t really comment more on their individual journeys.
“For me, it’s concerning, these two people have links to Lancashire and it highlights an important issue of a need to understand why young people might be radicalised and how it happens.”
A spokesman for Preston Council said: “Along with all other local authorities in the country, under the Government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Prevent Agenda) we have a duty to have ‘due regard to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’.
“As with all public bodies, we would urge anyone who is worried about relatives or friends travelling to Syria who may be drawn into the conflict to get in touch with the police.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said he could not confirm that the pair, from Manchester, had died. He said: “We are aware of these reports, but cannot confirm them.”