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UK police seek to discourage British youths from going to Syria to support rebels

British police are launching a nationwide bid to prevent young people from traveling to Syria to take part in the fighting there.

Metropolitan Police officials said Thursday they are increasingly concerned about the number of young people intending to go to Syria to join the conflict.

Police say the number of Syria-related arrests in Britain has risen, with 40 reported in the first three months of 2014 compared with 25 in all of last year.

Counter-terrorism coordinator Helen Ball said police are trying to encourage people to contact them if they have concerns about people joining the fighting.

"This is not about criminalizing people, it is about preventing tragedies," she said.

Officials have long worried that young people returning from Syria would bring terrorist tactics to Britain.