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Missing Schoolgirls: UK Police Arrive In Turkey

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Officers from the Metropolitan Police have arrived in Turkey as the search continues for three schoolgirls from east London who are believed to be heading for Syria.

Relatives of Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, have made emotional pleas for the teenagers to come home amid fears they may have been recruited by jihadists online.

The three girls were last seen on Tuesday morning as they left their homes, telling their families they would be out for the day.

They are thought to have boarded a Turkish Airlines flight at Gatwick, which landed in Istanbul on Tuesday evening, with the intention to cross into Syria and join terror group Islamic State.

Speaking at Scotland Yard, Abase Hussen, 47, said his family was "completely different now" after his daughter's disappearance.

He said: "We are depressed, and it's very stressful. The message we have for Amira is to get back home. We miss you. We cannot stop crying. Please think twice. Don't go to Syria."

He added that Amira had shown no sign that anything was amiss as she left home, saying she was going to a wedding.

Kadiza Sultana's older sister Halima Khanom said: "Find the courage in your heart to contact us and let us know that you're safe and you're ok - that's all we ask."

One of Shamima Begum's sisters fought back tears and said the family hoped the teenager had gone to "try and talk some sense" into her friend who had already travelled to Syria.

Renu Begum, 27, said: "If anybody is telling her that they're going to love her more than us, they're wrong.

"Nobody else can love her more than we do because she's our baby. We just want her home."

It is understood Shamima Begum had exchanged messages online with Aqsa Mahmood, a former private school pupil from Glasgow who travelled to Syria to marry a fighter in 2013.

Shamima's sister, who spoke while clutching her missing sister's pyjamas, said if anyone tried to persuade the girls to travel to Syria, "it's a really cruel and evil thing to do".

Aamer Anwar, the lawyer representing Aqsa's family, told Sky News security authorities are not passing on intelligence which could allow families to prevent their children from travelling to Syria or Iraq.

These failings mean the UK is "exporting terror" abroad, he said.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Officers are working closely with the Turkish authorities who are providing a great deal of assistance and support to our investigation."

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