Turkish soldiers keep watch from an observation tower in the Nusaybin district on the border with Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli in the Hasakeh province on March 7, 2015
Turkish soldiers keep watch from an observation tower in the Nusaybin district on the border with Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli in the Hasakeh province on March 7, 2015 © Delil Souleiman - AFP/File
Turkish soldiers keep watch from an observation tower in the Nusaybin district on the border with Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli in the Hasakeh province on March 7, 2015
AFP
Last updated: June 5, 2015

Turkey detains Russian student trying to cross into Syria

Turkish authorities have detained a female Russian student as she attempted to cross into war-torn Syria, Russian authorities said Friday.

Moscow State University student Varvara Karaulova, 19, was found in the Turkish border town of Kilis after she vanished from the Russian capital, the interior ministry said in a statement.

"The operation to track her down was sucessful thanks to the swift use of all of Interpol's capabilities and the coordinated actions by the Turkish and Russian law enforcement agencies," the statement said.

Karaulova was currently being held by Turkish immigration officials, the statement added.

The cultural studies major -- who had apparently developed an interest in Islam and Arabic -- went missing on 27 May after skipping lectures at the prestigious university and flying to Istanbul, local media has reported, sparking speculation she wanted to link up with jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group.

Karaulova's father in Istanbul told Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti she was detained Thursday as she attempted to cross the border.

Pavel Karaulov said he was still "in shock" over her flight from Moscow.

Russia's interior ministry told RIA Novosti they were weighing whether to open a criminal investigation into Karaulova for trying to join an illegal armed group.

She is not the first young woman from Europe to try to travel to Syria.

A group of three London schoolgirls crossed into the war-torn nation in February and Turkey on Thursday said it had detained a French woman who crossed back after joining IS.

There have been few reports of Russian women leaving for Syria but a large number of Chechen men from the country's volatile North Caucasus region are known to be fighting for IS.

Turkey has come under fire from the West over the flow of foreign jihadists through its volatile border.

The government in Ankara says it has put over 13,500 foreign citizens -- 18 percent of whom are of European or North American origin -- on an entry blacklist to stop them travelling to Syria.

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