Three British schoolgirls who left their homes in London to join Isis in war-ravaged Syria are feared to have been killed after their families lost all contact with them.
Shamima Begum, 16, Kadiza Sultana, 17, and Amira Abase, 16, all of whom attended Bethnal Green Academy in East London, ran away from home in February last year, purportedly after being radicalised by Isis propaganda distributed online.
They travelled to Isis’ “hellishly dangerous” Syrian stronghold of Raqqa and are understood to have maintained contact with their family while living under the terror group’s control.
But a lawyer who represents the families of Shamima and Kadiza has revealed that all contact with the girls was lost in mid-December – around the time British, American and Russian warplanes stepped up their bombardment of Raqqa.
“They are in Raqqa, or were there certainly up until a few weeks ago,’ Tasnime Akunjee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He added that as the city is “hellishly dangerous”.
“Contact has been lost with them for some weeks now, so to be honest we have no idea what their status is at the moment,” he added.
Speaking of the girls’ families Mr Akunjee said he could not find the language to describe what they are going through, adding: “Bombs are being dropped in the close proximity of their children.”
“When you have that warzone strategy in front of you, what can parents halfway across the world do to communicate with their children?” he went on to say.
Warplanes have laid siege to Raqqa since the families last heard from the girls shortly before Christmas. The air raids have taken out numerous buildings operated by jihadis and their supporters.
The familes of Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum have travelled to Turkey in a bid to retrace the missing girls’ movements
Last July the Guardian reported that at least two of the girls had married Isis fighters, although at the request of their families the newspaper refused to disclose which of the girls had wed.
The article also claimed that the girls had been split up shortly after arriving in Raqqa.
Mr Akunjee spoke to the BBC after the announcement of a new Government anti-terror programme.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan visited Bethnal Green Academy on Tuesday to reveal details of the plans. A new website called Educate Against Hate will advise parents on how to tell if their children are at risk of being radicalised and flag up any potentially extremist leanings.