Missing schoolgirls: Families of three British schoolgirls travel to Turkey in bid to retrace their last steps

The girls are thought to have boarded a bus bound for Urfa close to the Syrian border where they met people smugglers who brought them into the Isis-stronghold of Raqqa

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The Independent Online

The families of three British schoolgirls believed to be living in Syria after being lured there by Isis militants have travelled to Turkey in a bid to retrace their last steps.

School friends Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Amira Abase and Shamima Begum left their east London home and flew to Turkey last month before crossing into Islamic State-controlled area of Syria. 

Shamima’s sister Renu Begum said: “This is our next step basically to get the message out to them that we've followed them all the way out here. We want them to know that we love them."

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Amira Abase, Kadiza Sultana and Shamima Begum waught on CCTV at Gatwick airport on their way to Turkey in February (AP)

Their decision was taken after footage released by a Turkish television station last month appeared to show the trio walking into a coach station in Istanbul where they remained for more than 18 hours. The girls are thought to have boarded a bus bound for Urfa close to the Syrian border where they met people smugglers who brought them into the Isis stronghold of Raqqa.

 

Kadiza Sultana’s sister Halima Khanom said: "I don't really recognise my sister, the video and the CCTV that we saw. Because this is just not her and we just want to understand her, you know, to find some answers and get some help."

Visiting the coach station, the families said they spoke to a man who they claim unknowingly let the girls in. He said they the girls “smiling as they arrived" and "smiling as they left”.  Today a lawyer for the family, Tasnime Akunjee, responded to ongoing debate over whether the police, border security or school was ultimately to blame for their disappearance.

“Of course they [the parents] feel responsible for their own children, that goes without saying,” Ms Akunjee told ITV. “But the fact is these girls were school children and much of what took place clearly took place at school."

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