The Observer reports: Nine young British medical students have travelled illegally to Syria and are believed to be working in hospitals in Islamic State-controlled areas, the Observer can reveal. Their families were mounting a desperate effort on Saturday at the Turkish-Syrian border to persuade them to come home.
The group of four women and five men crossed the border last week, apparently keeping their plans secret from relatives until just before entering Syria, when one woman sent her sister a brief message and a smiling selfie.
“We all assume that they are in Tel Abyad now, which is under Isis control. The conflict out there is fierce, so medical help must be needed,” Turkish opposition politician Mehmet Ali Ediboglu told the Observer, shortly after meeting the families.
“They have been cheated, brainwashed. That is what I, and their relatives, think.”
Both he and the students’ parents were convinced that the young medics wanted to work with Isis, Ediboglu said, but they were also certain that the group did not plan to take up arms. “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.”
The Home Office said that the medics would not automatically face prosecution under anti-terror laws if they tried to return to the UK, as long as they could prove they had not been fighting. [Continue reading…]