The three missing Bethnal Green schoolgirls feared to be looking to join ISIS have crossed into Syria from Turkey, Metropolitan Police say.
Kadiza Sultana, 16, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum, both 15, who are all pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, flew from London to Turkey on February 17.
The Metropolitan Police said they: “now had reason to believe that they are no longer in Turkey and have crossed into Syria.”
“Officers continue to work closely with the Turkish authorities on this investigation.”
The BBC reported that its sources inside Syria suggest the three girls crossed near the Kilis border with the help of people smugglers.
This news follows yesterday’s denial by the Metropolitan Police over allegations that it took three days to inform Turkey on three missing schoolgirls.
Turkish deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç criticised UK police for not taking “necessary measures”.
He said: “It is a condemnable act for Britain to let three girls come to Istanbul and then let us know three days later.”
“The search is on-going. It would be great if we can find them. But if we can’t, it is not us who will be responsible, but the British.”
Metropolitan Police responded by saying they began working with Turkish authorities the day after the first two teenagers were reported missing one week ago.
“Once we established that the girls had travelled to Turkey, police made contact with the foreign liaison officer at the Turkish Embassy in London on February 18.”
“Since then we have been working closely with the Turkish authorities who are providing great assistance and support to our investigation.”
CCTV footage issued by the Metropolitan Police show Abase, Sultana and Begum going through security at Gatwick airport.
Prime Minister David Cameron has called for airlines and internet companies to do more to prevent radicalised British teenagers travelling to the Middle East.
The news comes after the families of the three girls made emotional appeals last Sunday for the girls to return home.
Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, has written to Bethnal Green Academy saying she knows staff are doing “everything possible” to keep pupils safe.
She said: “While everyone is hoping and praying for the schoolgirls’ safe return, thoughts are also with their friends and classmates who will no doubt struggle to come to terms with recent events.”
“Staff are doing all they can to provide pupils with help and support and to ensure they continue to thrive in a safe, tolerant environment where key British values such as democracy and tolerance are shared.”