17 Australians released from Syria camp

CANBERRA, Australia –

The Australian government says four women and their 13 children held in a camp in Syria since the fall of the Islamic State group in 2019 have become the second group of Australians to be repatriated from the country. devastating war, the Australian government said on Saturday, as political opponents warned families. pose a security risk in the country.

In confirming the latest group’s arrival in Sydney, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said newcomers could face “law enforcement action” if a counterterrorism investigation team including police and security personnel find evidence of any crime.

The mothers, who have been partners of Islamic State supporters, could face ongoing scrutiny including ankle monitoring and curfews or could be charged with trespassing into the city. former stronghold of the Islamic State of al-Raqqa in Syria.

“Informed by the national security advisory, the government carefully considered the scope of security, community and welfare factors when making the decision to repatriate,” O’Neil said in a statement. .

Australian officials have rated this group as the most vulnerable of the 60 Australian women and children held at al-Roj camp in northeastern Syria.

The eight biological children of two Australian Islamic State fighters killed are the only other group repatriated by Australia from camps in Syria. The children and grandchildren of the fighters were returned by the previous Australian government in 2019.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Karen Andrews has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to explain what steps have been taken to ensure the wider Australian community is safe from those who are likely to experience extreme violence. radicalization.

Andrews said: “The actions that the Albanese government have taken in putting Australian lives at risk by deporting women and children from camps in Syria are inexcusable – the danger is now taking place in Syria – the danger that is now happening. in our Australian communities here.”

Albanese said he would follow all security advice about the risks posed by women and children, but did not disclose what that advice was.

“Our first and only priority is to keep Australians safe,” Albanese said.

Kamalle Dabboussy, a Sydney resident who has lobbied the government for years to return her daughter Mariam with her three children, said their reunion in a Sydney hotel room was emotional.

“It was an overwhelming day, a fun day,” Dabboussy told reporters.

“There were hugs and tears. It was a very emotional moment,” he added.

Dabboussy said what happens next to the mothers and children is up to the authorities, who are currently interviewing the women.

The United States, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada have repatriated Syrian citizens.

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