Ismail Hamdoun of Toronto among medical students in ISIS-controlled Syria
Group of 11 friends who studied together in Sudan crossed into Syria from Turkey in mid-March
A Toronto man is believed to be among a group of medical students who travelled to Syria to help out in hospitals in ISIS-controlled areas, according a Turkish politician.
Ismail Hamdoun has Toronto roots and is now believed to be in Tel Abyad, a town in northern Syria near the border with Turkey that has seen fierce fighting, according to Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, a Turkish doctor and MP helping the families of the students ensure their safe return. Ediboglu spoke with CBC's Nil Koksal on Monday
Ediboglu also told The Associated Press that the group of students who crossed into Syria from Turkey consists of 11 people of Sudanese origin — seven British citizens, two Sudanese, one American and Hamdoun.
Ediboglu said the group of 11 were all friends, and eight of them had graduated from medical school in Sudan while three were about to finish.
Attended Bloor Collegiate Institute and University of Toronto
CBC News has spoken to a former classmate of Hamdoun, who said he attended Bloor Collegiate Institute in Toronto.
Hamdoun's Facebook page also indicates he studied at the University of Toronto.
Ediboglu told the AP that ten of the students arrived in Istanbul from Khartoum, Sudan, early on March 12, and Hamdoun arrived from Toronto.
The group spent a night in Istanbul, he said, before taking a bus to a southern province. Ediboglu said he suspects they crossed into Syria from the Turkish border town of Akcakale, across from Islamic State group territory, on March 13 or 14.
Members of the group have sent text messages to the families saying they are fine, he said.
"They say 'We're at the hospital treating patients,"' he said. The families took that to mean that they are in Syria.
Ediboglu told CBC News the families of the students are at the Syria-Turkey border mounting efforts to safely return the group.
British member of parliament, Henry Bellingham, told the AP that one of the young women who entered Syria was the daughter of a respected surgeon at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn, in England.
He said that the young woman had been "radicalized and exploited and swept away by other students" at the medical school in Khartoum.
Bellingham said Britain's Foreign Office has been in touch with them.
"It's going to be very difficult to do anything," he said. "It's a really dangerous situation and it's possible their lives are in danger."
With files from The Associated Press