LONDON (Reuters) - Two men in Britain appealed for the return of their wives and nine children on Tuesday, saying they feared they were traveling with another woman to Syria, where Islamic State militants have seized swaths of territory.
British Muslims and sisters Khadija Dawood, Sugra Dawood and Zohra Dawood and their children, aged between three and 15, were reported missing five days ago.
A lawyer for two of the husbands said the group, who all live in northern England, disappeared after traveling to Saudi Arabia and there are concerns they may have tried to join a brother who is suspected of fighting with IS militants in Syria.
“Please, please contact with me, please, please call me at least,” Akhtar Iqbal, the husband of Sugra Dawood and the father of five of the children, told a news conference.
“I love you a lot, I can’t live without you. Please call me,” he said, holding his head and crying.
British authorities estimate more than 700 Britons have traveled to Syria, with a significant proportion thought to have joined Islamic Sate which has taken over vast areas of the country and neighboring Iraq.
Families are among those to have traveled, and police said of those arrested on their return to Britain last year, 11 percent were women and 17 percent were under 20.
Mohammed Shoaib, the husband of Khadija Dawood, also urged his wife of 11 years to come home.
The lawyer for the two men, Balaal Khan, said there had been no signs that the women had become radicalized and said the two husbands had no contact with their wives since they failed to return to Britain. The lawyer said the third husband was currently outside Britain.
West Yorkshire Police said they were working with authorities overseas to try to find the family.
“We are extremely concerned for the safety of the family,” said Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster, of West Yorkshire Police.
Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; Editing by Andrew Osborn