UK & World News

  • 24 April 2014, 10:35

Women Urged To Stop Britons Fighting In Syria

A sharp rise in the number of people being arrested for travelling to Syria has prompted a new campaign.

Female loved ones of those thinking of heading to the war-torn state are being encouraged to stop the men leaving.

Scotland Yard revealed that 40 Syria-related arrests were made in the first three months of this year, up from 25 in the whole of 2013.

The campaign comes after several Britons are thought to have died in Syria in the last few months.

Bashar al Assad's government is fighting a civil war against a group of Western-backed rebels and also an al Qaeda-linked extremist group.

Around 400 Britons are believed to have gone to Syria over the last two years to train in camps or take part in the fighting, with an estimated 20 having died.

Senior National Co-ordinator Counter-Terrorism Helen Ball, said: "We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young people who have or are intending to travel to Syria to join the conflict.

"We want to ensure that people, particularly women, who are concerned about their loved ones are given enough information about what they can do to prevent this from happening.

"We want to increase their confidence in the police and partners to encourage them to come forward so that we can intervene and help.

"This is not about criminalising people, it is about preventing tragedies."

Workers from the Prevent Counter-terrorism Scheme, the Charity Commission and other groups are meeting at Scotland Yard for the campaign launch.

Other events are also being held across the country and leaflets highlighting the risks of going to the Middle Eastern state will be handed out at ports.

Although it is not illegal to travel to Syria, it is forbidden in that country to cross its borders without a valid visa.

It may also be illegal in the UK to join in or seek out military activity in Syria which could be regarded as supporting terrorists.

Police in the UK have advised those who want to support humanitarian efforts in Syria to donate to charities instead of going there.

Five days ago, the father of a British teenager killed in Syria said he was "scared" for his two other sons who are fighting there.

Abdullah Deghayes, 18, from Brighton, is believed to have died in Kassab, in Latakia province, earlier this month after leaving the UK in January.

His father Abubaker, who learned of his son's death via Facebook, said his two other sons, Jaffar, 16, and 20-year-old Amer had also travelled to Syria, and pleaded for them to return.

Another of those who died in the last few months was a British man suspected of carrying out a suicide attack.

Other Britons, including orthopaedic surgeon Dr Abbas Khan, have died after going to help with humanitarian relief.

 

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