LONDON - One of three British sisters, thought to have gone with their nine children to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has made contact with her family in Britain and given an indication the group may be in Syria.
British Muslims and sisters Sugra Dawood, 34, Zohra Dawood, 33, and Khadija Dawood, 30, and their children, aged between three and 15, were reported missing six days ago when they failed to return home to Bradford last Thursday as planned.
"We have received information that contact has been made with the family in the UK," the West Yorkshire police said in a statement yesterday.
"Contact has been made by one of the missing women and there is an indication that they may have already crossed the border into Syria but this is uncorroborated."
The group flew to Medina, Saudi Arabia, on May 28 for an Islamic pilgrimage, and a Turkish security official said they travelled to Istanbul on June 9.
Their families grew concerned when they failed to arrive back in Britain last Thursday, and the British police contacted their Turkish counterparts for help the next day.
Earlier yesterday, a Turkish official said the authorities were working to locate the women and their children, but had found no trace of them.
On Tuesday, the husbands of Ms Sugra and Ms Khadija Dawood made a tearful appeal for their return, fearing that they might have gone to Syria.
A lawyer for the husbands said there are concerns that the 12 people, who all live in northern England, may have tried to join a brother who is suspected of fighting with ISIS militants in Syria.
The police earlier believed that two of the children in the group - an eight-year-old and a five-year-old - did not join the rest of the family on the flight from Medina to Istanbul, a commonly used route into Syria.
The British authorities estimate that more than 700 Britons have travelled to Syria, with a significant proportion thought to have joined ISIS, which has taken over vast areas of the country and neighbouring Iraq.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE