Children among nine Britons held at Turkey-Syria border: Police

A man beleived to be a British citizen looks on as he is driven away from a Turkish military station on April 2, 2015, in Hatay, on the Turkish border with Syria. Nine Britons arrested by Turkish authorities trying to cross into Syria were all member
A man beleived to be a British citizen looks on as he is driven away from a Turkish military station on April 2, 2015, in Hatay, on the Turkish border with Syria. Nine Britons arrested by Turkish authorities trying to cross into Syria were all members of the same family and included four children, among them a one-year-old, British police said on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AFP  

LONDON (AFP) - Nine Britons arrested by Turkish authorities trying to cross the Syrian border were all members of the same family and included four children, among them a one-year-old, British police said Thursday.

The adults, aged 21, 24, 47 and two aged 22, were arrested in the Hatay region of southern Turkey along with four children, aged one, three, eight and 11.

They all currently live in Rochdale, near Manchester in north-west England, and are expected to be returned to Britain from Turkey "in due course", a police spokesman said.

"What is obviously concerning is why a family were seemingly attempting to take very young and vulnerable children into a warzone," said Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett of Greater Manchester Police.

"Such a volatile and dangerous environment is no place for them whatsoever."

He added: "One of our primary concerns is the safety and welfare of the young children and we are working with partners to ensure a full safeguarding strategy is in place upon their return to the UK."

An investigation is under way into why they were travelling to Syria, but the force said there was no evidence of any imminent threat to Britain.

The arrests were announced by the Turkish army on Wednesday, but no further details were given.

Turkey has been repeatedly criticised by its Western allies for not doing enough to halt the flow across Turkish territory of European nationals seeking to join Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria.

However, it has made a number of arrests in recent months and insists it is doing all it can to control the border.

Nine British medical students of Sudanese origin went missing last month after travelling to Turkey with the apparent aim of crossing into Syria to join ISIS.

Ankara was sharply criticised over the failure to stop three British teenage girls who crossed the Turkey-Syria border to join ISIS in February.

But in late March, it deported back to Britain a young woman and three male teenagers suspected of trying to travel to Syria.