A music festival has been forced to cancel a performance by a Syrian music and dance group because they were refused entry to the UK.

Al-Kindi and The Whirling Dervishes Of Damascus were to headline the opening weekend of sound, a festival of new music in and around the Aberdeen area.

The musicians were refused entry visas because of apparent fears they would not leave the UK after performing, festival organisers said.

"We are hugely disappointed that audiences in the UK will not be able to see the astonishing music and dance experience of this internationally acclaimed ensemble," festival director Fiona Robertson said.

"It would have been particularly important to see a positive story emerging from a country which is only ever portrayed now as a desperate war zone.

"It is curious to say the least that the UK Government should refuse entry to musicians who regularly tour across Europe and have strong links, in particular, with France."

The classical Arab music group were also due to perform at world music event Womex in Cardiff this week, before performing at Aberdeen's Lemon Tree on Friday.

Al-Kindi founder Julien Weiss will still be performing as planned, the festival said.

Ms Robertson said: "It will be a rare chance for people in Scotland to hear this renowned virtuoso on the qunan, a form of zither, and performer of Arabic song."