London: Two young British nationals, including one of Pakistani descent, who spent eight months fighting alongside an al Qaeda-linked terror group in Syria, were on Friday jailed for 12 years and eight months each.
Yusuf Zubair Sarwar and Mohammed Nahin Ahmed, both 22, from Handsworth in Birmingham, travelled to Syria in May 2013 after contacting Islamist extremists.
While Sarwar, who is of Pakistani descent, was born in Britain, Ahmed, who was born in Bangladesh, moved to the UK as a child.
The pair were arrested at Heathrow airport in January after returning from Syria. Both men pleaded guilty in July.
Sentencing the duo, Judge Michael Topolski described them as fundamentalists who are committed to violent extremism.
He said: "You were intending to be martyred on the battlefield."
The childhood friends faked documents to convince their families they were going to Turkey but had actually arranged a one-way trip to Syria instead.
Sarwar's family reported him missing to police after finding a handwritten letter from him to his mother detailing his intention to "do jihad".
Police believe Ahmed and Sarwar fought with the al-Nusra Front, which is a jihadist group affiliated with al Qaeda.
The men bought one-way tickets to Turkey then crossed the border to Syria - and when they got back officers were "waiting to arrest them", police had said in July.
"Traces of military grade explosives were found on their clothing and pictures on their camera showed them brandishing weapons."
"Detectives used satellite imaging to establish from the photographs that the men had been in and around Aleppo - one of the main conflict zones," police had said.
The British police have arrested a number of people who have travelled to Syria over concerns that they are fighting with armed groups.
The government has said that "hundreds" of Britons were believed to have gone to fight in Syria and that security forces were doing their best to monitor the situation.