LONDON (AP) — Turkish authorities have detained three male teenagers who left Britain planning to travel to Syria, British police said Sunday.
The trio is believed to be the latest in a growing number of Britons trying to travel to extremist-held territory inside Syria. Last month, three British schoolgirls left the U.K. and police believe they have joined Islamic State militants inside Syria.
Police said two of the male teens detained in Turkey are 17 years old, and the third is 19. Their names haven’t been released. Counterterrorism officers learned on Friday the teens had gone missing from their homes in Britain and they were thought to be traveling to Syria, police said.
Turkish authorities were alerted and the three were detained before they had a chance to travel to Syria, police said.
A growing number of Britons have traveled to Turkey to use it as a crossing point to enter Syria and to join Islamic State extremists who control territory in both Syria and Iraq. British police say roughly 700 Britons have traveled to Syria to join extremists, raising concerns that some may launch attacks inside the U.K. if they return.
Authorities say Internet-based social media have made it much easier for young Britons to communicate with extremists inside Syria, with many being lured to join militants there.