Ahmed al-Sha’ara took his sons across Europe and through Turkey before joining up with forces challenging President Bashar al-Assad, the Egyptian al-Aram website has reported.
Among them was Osama, 13, who had earlier accompanied his father on demonstrations in Tangiers, northern Morocco, against the jailing of Salafists — radical Sunni Muslims.
If confirmed, the family’s journey would support claims that large family groups from across the Muslim world are travelling to Syria in greater numbers.
Shiraz Maher, a researcher at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College, London said:
“We have seen a lot of families coming from the Caucuses and from central Asia, and many of them include infant children. We are seeing at least one family a month cross to Syria.
“I think it is a matter of time until we start seeing European women going over to Syria. There is currently a huge amount of interaction online between jihadis in Syria and women from European countries.
The jihadis advertise this, they say it’s fine for men to bring their families along.”
He continued: “The families who go to Syria form a sort of home front. The women feed the fighters and indoctrinate the children to create the next generation of fighters.
Their function is also to populate an area the jihadists have taken as a means of consolidating control.”
The battle against the Assad dictatorship, which is dominated by his Alawite sect and Shia Muslims, has attracted Sunni extremists from northern Africa, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
Islamist groups, many linked to al-Qaeda, have come to dominate the rebellion. Large parts of the country have now fallen to radical factions.
Intelligence sources have told The Daily Telegraph that British Muslims make up the largest contingent of about 1,000 Westerners fighting with Islamist groups.
By Damien McElroy, and Ruth Sherlock