Schoolgirls Believed To Have Crossed Into Syria

Three British schoolgirls feared to be planning to join Islamic State are now believed by police to have crossed the Turkish border into Syria.

Scotland Yard said counter-terrorism officers leading the investigation "now have reason to believe that they are no longer in Turkey and have crossed into Syria".

A spokesman added: "Officers continue to work closely with the Turkish authorities on this investigation."

Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase, from east London, flew to Istanbul from Gatwick Airport last Tuesday.

The girls' relatives have made emotional pleas for them to come home amid concerns they may have been recruited by jihadists who communicated with them online.

Earlier, the Metropolitan Police denied a claim from Turkey that it took three days to tell the Turkish authorities about the missing girls. They claim Turkish authorities were told within 24 hours of the girls' disappearance.

Police launched a public appeal for information about the trio on Friday.

As many as 500 Britons are thought to have made their way to Syria or Iraq to join Islamist groups and Turkey has said it needs more detailed and faster information from Western intelligence agencies to intercept them.

The girls were students at Bethnal Green Academy in east London. On Monday the school said it had "no evidence" they were at risk from radicalisation despite another pupil disappearing in December.