Three suspected terrorists from Manchester have been arrested on suspicion of travelling to or supporting fighting in Syria.
Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) swooped on two men aged 29 and 18 both from Levenshulme, and a 21-year-old woman from Trafford on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
A 29-year-old man from Oxford has also been arrested on suspicion of the same offence.
All four have been brought into custody in Manchester and are now being interviewed by officers from NWCTU.
A number of properties are now being searched.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, Head of the NWCTU, said: “First and foremost I should reassure everyone that none of today’s activity is linked in any way to any imminent threats in Greater Manchester or the UK.
“The operation has been running since autumn 2013 since we first became aware of a number of individuals travelling from the North West to the battlefields of Syria.
“You may have seen headlines in recent months linking people from Manchester to Syria and you will naturally have been concerned about this.
“Like other major cities across the UK we have been aware for some time of people travelling to war-torn places for terrorism-related purposes. This is not a problem unique to Manchester or the North West – it is an issue that affects different communities across the country and elsewhere.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mole said that every case is looked upon on its own merits, but travelling to a war-zone in order to be involved in conflict, or supporting those who do so, could make you potentially liable to prosecution for terrorism offences.
He said: “There is naturally widespread concern about the situation in Syria and other conflict zones and the way that some will be driven to travel there to engage in humanitarian work or to take part in the fighting.
“We know that some have already lost their lives or been detained by the regime and badly treated.”
He added: “There are serious concerns that anyone travelling to Syria, whether for humanitarian reasons or because of a desire to support the Syrian opposition, may be targeted by extremist groups who want to recruit them. This could have serious repercussions for the safety of the individual concerned.
“Also, as well as posing a risk to themselves, there is the very real threat that they could pose a danger to our own communities when they return to the UK.”
He added that anyone who is concerned about a friend or family member who has gone missing should contact the non-emergency number police number on 101.