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Brits held in Turkey pictured after 'trying to cross Syria border'

The group covered their faces as they were escorted into a building by Turkish security services. Credit: AP Direct

Nine Britons being held in Turkey, who were allegedly trying to cross illegally into Syria, have been seen for the first time being escorted into a building by Turkish security services.

The group covered their faces as they were escorted into a building by Turkish security services. Credit: AP Direct

The group is believed to include four children ranging in age from two to 10-years-old.

The group covered their faces as they were escorted into a building by Turkish security services. Credit: AP Direct

Four children among Brits held trying to get into Syria

A group of nine British nationals arrested on Turkey's border allegedly trying to cross illegally into Syria, is believed to include four children ranging in age from 10 to two-years-old.

The Foreign Office said it is in contact with the Turkish authorities and is investigating.

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:

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UK 'in contact' with Turkey over arrested Britons

A Foreign Office spokesperson has told ITV News that it is "in contact with the Turkish authorities" in relation to reports that nine British nationals have been arrested trying to cross the border into Syria.

We are in contact with the Turkish authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance as required.

– Foreign Office spokesperson

In a statement, the Turkish military said the group had been arrested in Hatay province, which shares a border with Syria.

UN 'concerned' about refugee camp in Damascus

The UN said it is concerned about the residents living in the Yarmouk refugee camp. Credit: Reuters/Stringe

The United Nations said there had been "intensive" conflict between armed groups near the Yarmouk refugee camp for days and it is extremely concerned about the safety and protection of Syrian and Palestinian civilians in the area, Reuters reports.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said: "Credible information from public sources indicate that a variety of arms groups are engaged in fierce fighting in areas where Yarmouk's 18,000 civilians, including a large number of children, reside".

He said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operates in Yarmouk, was "anxiously continuing to monitor the situation closely."

Reports: Nine British nationals 'arrested by Syrian border'

The Foreign Office said it is looking into reports that nine British nationals have been arrested by the Turkish authorities for attempting to cross into Syria.

It is understood that the group were held by the Turkish army and handed over to local officials.

The group, which is thought to contain women and children, is believed to be the largest single group of Britons stopped trying to cross the border.

Islamic State seize control of Damascus refugee camp

Credit: Reuters

Islamic State forces have taken control of large parts of a besieged Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, witnesses and a monitoring group said.

The Yarmouk camp, home to up to 18,000 people, has been caught between government forces and Syrian insurgent groups including Islamic State's rivals such as al Qaeda's Nusra Front.

"They pushed from the Hajar Aswad area and Nusra fighters have joined them," one witness told Reuters.

The witness and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes continued inside the devastated camp where food, medicine and water are scarce. The Observatory said Islamic State controlled some of the main streets in the camp.

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IS expanded since start of air strikes, Assad claims

Islamic State has expanded since the start of US-led air strikes last September, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Reuters

Asked how effective the strikes had been in fighting the terror group, Assad told CBS: "Sometimes you could have local benefit but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS, actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes."

Assad claimed that there were some estimates that IS was attracting 1,000 recruits a month in Syria.

He also warned the group were expanding into new territory in Iraq and Libya.

The Syrian president - who has been involved in a brutal civil war with rebels since 2011 - said he would leave power when he no longer retained public support, or felt he could not represent "the Syrian interests, and values."

Islamist groups seize the Syrian city of Idlib

Fighters and a monitoring group have said Islamist groups including al Qaeda's Nusra Front have seized the Syrian city of Idlib for the first time since the conflict in the country began.

By taking Idlib, the capital of a northwestern province of the same name, the insurgents now control a second province after Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State group and target of US-led air strikes. Syrian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Britain to provide military training to Syrian forces

Britain will provide military training to "moderate opposition forces" in Syria, the government has announced.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made the announcement Credit: PA

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK would send around 75 military trainers and headquarters staff to instruct fighters on the use of small arms, infantry tactics and medical skills.

The training, which forms part of a US-led programme to support the moderate Syrian opposition, will be held in neighbouring Turkey and is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

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