French girl, 16, arrested for trying to join Islamic rebels in Syria

​A 16-year-old girl suspected of trying to reach Syria to join Islamist rebels was arrested in France.

The girl was allegedly departing "for jihad" when the border police at Nice airport stopped her on Saturday,  France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

The girl's family was not aware of her intentions. Turkish Airlines had contacted the border police as they weren't convinced that she was visiting her grandmother in Istanbul.

When investigators rang her father, he said he wasn't aware of her plans and added that they had no relatives in Turkey.

A 22-year-old man of Chechen origin was later arrested on suspicion of being her recruiter and purchasing her airline ticket to Turkey, in order to reach Syria.

More Europeans joining extremist groups in Iraq and Syria

The girl is just one of a wave of French citizens, who can be as young as 14, leaving the country to join the Syrian war. 

French officials estimate that approximately 800 citizens have left to join the extremist groups in Syria.

They are among thousands of foreigners, many from Western Europe, fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Mr Cazeneuve had unveiled measures in April to try to prevent young French Muslims and others from being radicalised. One of these measures included a hotline that parents can call when they detect suspicious behaviour in their children.

Authorities have since received nearly 300 tip-offs from the hotline, including 45 per cent reporting about women or young girls.

Sources: Reuters, AFP