Nine young British medical students – five men and four women – have travelled to the Middle East to help wounded people in Syria, they have reportedly told their families.
The group, all aged in their late teens and early 20s, allegedly flew to Istanbul from Sudan on 12 March in order to assist victims of war in Isis-controlled areas.
Seven of their parents are said to have travelled to Turkey this weekend in a bid to get them back.
The students went to the region “to help, not to fight”, Turkish politician Mehmet Ali Ediboglu – who has been assisting the families – told The Observer newspaper.
The students were born and raised in England, but had been studying medicine in Sudanese capital Khartoum. Mr Ediboglu told the paper he thought the students had been “cheated, brainwashed”.
He added: “Let’s not forget about the fact that they are doctors; they went there to help, not to fight. So this case is a little bit different.”
One of the youngest, Lena Maumoon Abdulqadir, 19, informed her family of the trip via the messenger Whatsapp, according to The Observer.
She reportedly told her relatives: “Don’t worry about us, we’ve reached Turkey and are on our way to volunteer helping wounded Syrian people.”
Her father told a Turkish newspaper he had informed both British and Turkish police of the situation.
The other eight have been named as Hisham Mohammed Fadlallah, Tasneem Suleyman Huseyin, Ismail Hamadoun, Nada Sami Kader, Mohamed Osama Badri Mohammed, Rowan Kamal Zine El Abidine and Tamer Ahmed Ebu Sebah.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing consular assistance to the families. We have informed the Turkish police to try and ascertain their whereabouts.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The UK advises against all travel to Syria and parts of Iraq.
“Anyone who does travel to these areas, even for humanitarian reasons, is putting themselves in considerable danger.”
It is understood a decision to prosecute someone who has travelled to the war-torn region would depend on the circumstances and nature of their activity there.
Last week a judge barred five teenage girls who have shown an interest in going to Syria from travelling abroad.
In February, it emerged that three London schoolgirls had flown to Turkey and were thought to have crossed the border into Syria to have joined the self-proclaimed Islamic State.Reuse content