Police say missing boys may have arrived in Syria

The two 17-year-olds are thought to have boarded a flight from Manchester airport. Picture: AP
The two 17-year-olds are thought to have boarded a flight from Manchester airport. Picture: AP
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Two teenage boys from northern England are believed to have travelled to Syria, counter-terrorism police confirmed yesterday.

The 17-year-olds are thought to have fled to the war-torn country after boarding a flight from Manchester airport to Dalaman in Turkey on 31 March, West Yorkshire Police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: “We are extremely concerned for the safety of these two boys and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to us.

“Syria is an extremely dangerous place and the public will be aware of the dangers these boys may face.

“The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those that come under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.”

The boys from Dewsbury were last seen by their families on the day they are believed to have boarded the Thomas Cook flight to Turkey, West Yorkshire Police said.

One of the boys is related to Hammaad Munshi, who was arrested by counter-terrorism police in 2006 at the age of 15 and later convicted over his role in a plot to murder non-Muslims, according to reports.

The force said it has been supporting the missing teenagers’ families and carrying out extensive inquiries alongside the North East Counter Terrorism Unit. Mr Milsom said: “Our priority is for their safe return; their families are gravely worried and want them home.”

He urged anyone concerned that a friend or relative may be contemplating travelling to Syria to contact police or local safeguarding units.

“This is not about criminalising people,” he said. “It is about preventing tragedies by offering support to communities, families, young and vulnerable people.”

Kirklees Council chief executive Adrian Lythgo said: “We are deeply concerned for these young people and will continue to work in close partnership with the Counter Terrorism Unit, West Yorkshire Police, our communities and schools to prevent and eradicate any threats and concerns.

“This includes anyone who is showing signs of becoming radicalised, who may have returned to the UK from Syria or may be planning to go to Syria or another conflict zone.”

The Metropolitan Police believe around 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, while around half are believed to have returned to the UK.

Nine Britons – including the son of a Labour councillor – were arrested in Turkey last week on suspicion of trying to cross the border into the neighbouring war-torn country.

Teenage girls Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana are believed to be inside Syria after flying to Turkey in February. It is understood the Bethnal Green Academy pupils from east London were following another 15-year-old girl who travelled to Syria in December.

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