February 20, 2015 12:09 PM EST

U.K. counterterror officials were urgently searching for three teenage schoolgirls they feared had run away from home to travel to Syria, police said Friday.

The girls, all good friends aged 15 to 17, boarded a Turkish Airlines flight at London’s Gatwick Airport at 12:40 p.m. (7:45 a.m. ET) Tuesday and arrived in Istanbul later that evening, police said in a statement. Thousands of wannabe ISIS rebels have crossed into Syria through Turkey since the civil war there started four years ago.

The girls were last seen at their homes at 8 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) that morning, where they made plausible excuses to their families as…


Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories

EDIT POST