The wife of an Irish citizen who was arrested in Syria for working for so-called Islamic State has spoken about her husband's struggle to adjust after he was made unemployed during the economic downturn in Ireland.

While Irina Bekmirzaev does not have an Irish passport, her husband Alexander does, as does their six-year-old son.

Earlier this year, Alexander Bekmirzaev was detained by Kurdish authorities in northern Syria. He denies fighting for IS and claims they forced him to drive an ambulance.

Having secured Irish citizenship in 2010, Mr Bekmirzaev returned to Belarus - where he grew up - to marry Irina.

She eventually joined him in Ireland once her visa difficulties had been sorted out. Shortly afterwards, in 2013, their son was born.

In a matter of months, Mr Bekmirzaev left his wife and newborn son to go to Syria, having been motivated by watching news reports of the war.

In an interview with journalist Norma Costello for RTÉ News, Ms Bekmirzaev explained how her husband struggled after losing his job during the economic collapse in Ireland.

He had worked as a security guard and a store assistant.

She said: "Every day he stay home. He was very sad. He said 'I want to go and help people'. He went to Haritan, Aleppo province. He work in the hospital; he was helper in the hospital."

Mr Bekmirzaev planned to use first-aid training he had received in Ireland. Ms Bekmirzaev said that she had no desire to go to a war zone, choosing instead to stay behind. Mr Bekmirzaev had originally intended to return after three months.

Their son, who turned six in April, had been born at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street just months before his father went to Syria.

As time went by, she said, her husband began to miss his wife and child. "To be honest, I am so afraid of war. I couldn't imagine living in this war place. But I love my husband and I want to support him."

The couple had already spent 18 months apart when they were first married, as Ms Bekmirzaev could not get a visa to enter Ireland.

She ultimately decided to follow Mr Bekmirzaev to Syria, she said, on the understanding that they would return to Ireland after a stint there.

Ms Bekmirzaev and her son are now in the Ain Issa refugee camp in Syria, where Lisa Smith is also living.

Ms Bekmirzaev is not worried that her son has been harmed or traumatised by his time under Islamic State, because, she says, she has kept to herself.

"I keep him home, I care about him, I teach him. I don't know people, just [a] few neighbours. [In] every city [there are] different neighbours, and now these people. Because normally I stay at home, I never go outside. I just go outside to buy necessary stuff for my family, and come back," she said.

Mr Bekmirzaev says he was born in 1973 in Uzbekistan and that his family moved in Belarus when he was young.

He moved to Ireland in 1999, and after a decade he was naturalised as an Irish citizen in 2010.

Mr Bekmirzaev says he travelled to Syria in September 2013 to help the Syrian people, and not to join Islamic State, and that when his wife and son arrived he moved the family to an IS-controlled area to escape bombing.

Mr Bekmirzaev was detained last December suspected of fighting for IS, a charge he denies.