A people smuggler affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) has confirmed that the three Bradford sisters and their nine children have crossed the border from Turkey into Syria.

Speaking to the BBC, the smuggler said that the families were split into two groups, with the first crossing the border early on Wednesday and the second following on Thursday.

Khadija, Sugra and Zohra Dawood and their children went missing after travelling to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage. From Medina, it is believed that the group flew to Istanbul, where they were met by members of IS people smuggling network to help them reach the border by road and cross into Syria.

On Tuesday, two of their husbands made an impassioned appeal to the women to try and convince them to return home to the UK, but to no avail.

One of the sisters, Zohra, is reported to have made contact with her family in the UK, and told them that she had made her way to Syria, but she did not give her exact location.

The North East Counter Terrorism Unit said that it was continuing with its enquiries.

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