ANKARA: Turkey said on Thursday it had caught a spy working for a country in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State who had helped three British girls cross into Syria to join the militant group.
“Do you know who turned out to be the person helping these three girls cross into Syria and join ISIS?” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told broadcaster A Haber in an interview.
He was caught. It turned out to be someone who works for the intelligence of a country from the coalition.”
He did not specify which country the spy was working for but said it was not the European Union or the United States.
The coalition also includes countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Australia and Canada.
Cavusoglu said he shared this information with his British counterpart, who had replied “as usual”.
A Turkish official who declined to be identified told Reuters the spy was now in custody.
“The person was working for the intelligence agency of a coalition country but is not a citizen of that country.
The person was not a Turkish citizen either,” he said.
Islamic State seized large swathes of land last June, including territory close to the Turkish border.
The U.S.-led coalition is using mostly air power in an attempt to push the Sunni militant group back.
British police and the girls’ families have issued appeals for their daughters to return home after they flew to Istanbul from London on Feb. 17.
Friends Amira Abase, 15, Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, are thought to have since entered Syrian territory controlled by Islamic State.
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 information from foreign intelligence agencies to intercept them, pointing to cases such as the three London schoolgirls who fled Britain.