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Sisters split to cross Syria border

Published 19/06/2015

Akhtar Iqbal, the husband of Sugra Dawood, has pleaded with his wife to return home with their children
Akhtar Iqbal, the husband of Sugra Dawood, has pleaded with his wife to return home with their children

Three British sisters and their nine children split into two groups to cross into Syria, an Islamic State smuggler has claimed.

They passed over the border from Turkey earlier this week, the man told the BBC.

Khadija Dawood, 30, Sugra Dawood, 34, and Zohra Dawood, 33, and their children, aged between three and 15, sparked an international police search when they disappeared after travelling to Saudi Arabia.

The smuggler, identified as being in charge of some of IS's border operations, said the first group made the crossing early on Wednesday, followed by the second on Thursday.

Earlier this week, police disclosed that one of the sisters had made contact and there was an "indication" they may have already crossed into Syria.

The parents of the women have said they do not support their actions and pleaded with others not to make a similar journey.

In a statement issued through police, the women's parents and other family members said: "We do not support the actions of the sisters leaving their husbands and families in the UK and of taking their children into a war zone where life is not safe to join any group.

"We plea (sic) to anyone thinking about making a similar journey not to go."

The Dawood sisters travelled to Medina with their nine children on May 28 to go on a religious pilgrimage. They were due to return to the UK on June 11, but broke off all contact with their family in Britain two days earlier on June 9.

Their brother is believed to be fighting for IS in Syria and he reportedly persuaded his sisters over Skype to join him.

The husbands of two of the women reported them missing. They broke down as they told of their anguish over their disappearance earlier this week.

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