Updated

October 10, 2019 14:14:07

Australia could be at risk of a major terror attack if the Federal Government rescues the partners of Islamic State fighters from Syria, according to the Home Affairs Minister.

Key points:

  • More than 60 Australian women and children are in the camp
  • Some of the women claim they were “tricked” into going to the Middle East
  • Mr Dutton says the families made their own decision to “destroy the lives of your children”

Peter Dutton said he had received advice that some of the women were as “hardcore” as the male Islamic State fighters they spent time with.

“These are people that would, in our judgement — not all of them but some of them — have the potential and capacity to come back here and cause a mass casualty event,” Mr Dutton told 2GB.

“So I don’t think it should come as a surprise when we say we’re not going to send our soldiers to rescue people of this nature.”

Twenty Australian women and more than 40 children are trapped in the squalid al-Hawl camp in northern Syria after family members were killed or jailed after fighting alongside the Islamic State terror group.

Some of the women claim they were tricked into going to Syria and have pleaded with the Federal Government to rescue them and their children from the camp.

But Mr Dutton said that was not the advice he had received.

“The advice in relation to some of these women is far from being dragged there by their husband or boyfriend,” Mr Dutton said.

“They’ve gone willingly and or they are as hardcore as some of the male terrorists they’ve seen in Syria and Iraq.”

Mr Dutton’s statement comes as Turkey mounts a military offensive into the region just north of the camp after US troops withdrew.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s actions and warned it could lead to a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

He said he had been in direct contact with the US this morning and that Australia was also speaking to the Turkish Government.

“We are also very concerned about what this could potentially mean for the Kurdish people, we’re concerned at what this could mean for the potential for the resurgence of Daesh (Islamic State),” he said.

While the Federal Government has made it clear most women and children would not be rescued, Mr Dutton said there was not a blanket ban on their return to Australia.

“We will look into individual cases and in some cases it might make sense for us to intervene, but in the majority of cases I think most people realise if you go into a warzone and take kids into a warzone … you’ve made a decision to destroy the lives of your children and that’s something you’ll have to live with,” he said.

The Home Affairs Department has confirmed at least 17 dual-nationals who fled Australia to join IS have been stripped of their citizenship, but they declined to identify all the individuals affected.

It is also unclear how many of the 20 Australian women living in the al-Hawl refugee camp have had their passports cancelled.

However, according to Mr Morrison, the children of these women would not have their citizenship revoked.

“My advice is that the citizenship of children of those for whom their citizenship is cancelled … is unaffected,” he said.

Topics:

terrorism,

refugees,

foreign-aid,

government-and-politics,

world-politics,

foreign-affairs,

unrest-conflict-and-war,

syrian-arab-republic,

turkey,

australia

First posted

October 10, 2019 12:32:46

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