The British authorities will be responsible if three London schoolgirls who travelled to Turkey last week and are believed to be en route to Syria are not found, deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç said on Monday.
Arınç said the search for the girls was continuing but that the British authorities had informed Turkey too late of their arrival in İstanbul.
Thousands of foreigners from more than 80 nations including Britain, other parts of Europe, China and the United States have joined the ranks of Islamic State and other radical groups in Syria and Iraq, many crossing through Turkey.
Turkey has said it needs more detailed and faster information from Western intelligence agencies to intercept them.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman also said Monday that Turkish and British authorities were working diligently to locate the girls.
“They are working closely to find them … and to find out what motivated them,” spokesman İbrahim Kalın said, calling for closer cooperation to prevent foreign fighters from using Turkish territory to join the Islamic State group.
“Turkey cannot struggle against foreign fighters on its own,” Kalin said. “Why aren’t they being stopped at the border? If there was information on the possibility that they may be joining terrorist activities, you should be conducting your efforts to prevent it at your border gates.”
The families said there were no signs that the girls were interested in extremism or had planned to go abroad.
The police said the girls were interviewed in 2014 in connection with the disappearance of another friend, but said there was nothing to suggest they were at risk.
Photo: DHA, Ümit Kozan