Syria-bound British family to be deported from Turkey to Moldova

A British couple and their four young children detained in Turkey last month on suspicion of seeking to travel to a part of Syria controlled by Islamic State militants will be deported to Moldova, a senior Turkish official said on Tuesday.

Asif Malik, his partner Sara and the four children — who are aged between less than 12 months and seven years old — were detained in Ankara just over two weeks ago after British police appealed for information on their whereabouts.

quotThe family will be deported to Moldova of their own will,quot the Turkish official said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. A second Turkish official confirmed that the family were being deported to a country other than Britain but gave no further details. The British Foreign Office said it could not immediately comment.

It was not immediately clear why the family asked to be deported to Moldova, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.

British police launched their appeal after relatives reported that the family had not been seen or heard from for almost two weeks and was thought to be heading to Syria. Turkish officials said the family had crossed into Turkey by land from Greece via the town of Kirklareli on April 16 and had been detained after a tip-off from British police.

Islamic State’s attempt to create a theocratic Sunni Muslim “caliphate” by violent means on the territory of Iraq and Syria has attracted thousands of recruits from Europe and elsewhere.

Britain’s security services estimate that some 600 Britons have gone to Syria or Iraq to join militant groups. They include the man known as quotJihadi John,” who has appeared in several Islamic State beheading videos.