Peter Dutton has ruled out bringing Australian women and children out of the al-Hawl camp in Syria in the short term, as Turkish forces prepare to invade and the women express fear they will be used as 'human shields'
Peter Dutton says some of the women trapped in the al-Hawl camp in Syria are 'as hardcore' as the Islamic State men, and he is in no hurry to bring them home.
The women in the camp expressed fear of being caught up in the fighting, as reports of casualties and damage were received from inside Syria's northern border with Turkey.Turkey on Thursday battered Kurdish positions inside Syria with air strikes, fired artillery and began a ground offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria after US troops pulled back from the area, paving the way for an assault on forces that have long been allied with the United States.
AdvertisementLoadingThe Kurds retaliated with raids on Turkish positions along the northern border and in confrontations with Turkish-backed forces in Syria's north-west.Kurdish sources told Sky News Arabia that Turkish planes had bombed targets up to 50 kilometres south of the border. The incursion was deeper into Syrian territory than the 30km "safe zone" Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wanted to establish as part of his 'Operation Peace Spring'.
Panicked residents of the border areas were pictured fleeing towns in scenes similar to when they had escaped the advances on their towns and villages by the Islamic State group.One of the Australian mothers being held in the al-Hawl camp said in text messages to a family member that the number of Kurdish guards was decreasing as they went to join the battle against Turkey.
It's clear from the messages that rumours are circulating in the camp."I'm thinking it's time to go somewhere and take cover before the ground war starts. Somewhere there is walls," the woman wrote in a series of text messages."I need to protect my children. I am being forced to make this decision. THIS IS NOT OK DO U UNDERSTAND.
"They're freaking coming to use us as human shields. They have built trenches around us. The Turks have told us to dig trenches and they are cutting off the net and cellular data."Turkish intelligence advises women to build trenches as the Kurds plan to take the ground war to the camp grounds using us as human shields.
"Kurds are saying they will start spraying the camp [with] bullets as soon as US pulls out and take revenge on us."The AgeThe Sydney Morning Heraldhave chosen not to identify the woman for her own safety.Unconfirmed reports in Kurdish media suggested there was a riot and breakout at the al-Hawl camp overnight Australian time.
People wave as Turkish soldiers prepare to cross the border into Syria at Akcakale, Turkey.Credit:Getty ImagesThe Australian representative of the families, Kamalle Dabboussy, said he believed the rioters were some of the Syrian women who live in a separate part of the camp from the former wives of foreign fighters, including Australians.
This made it an "increasingly dangerous position" for the Australian women to be in. In addition, helicopters and drones had been flying overhead."The women are noting the activity. They are scared" Mr Dabboussy said."We're also told the camp is about to close food and water supplies. The Australian women have no funds. They are destitute, really, so they're in a very difficult spot. Without any money to be able to buy from the black market, and the food and water stops being delivered to the camp, the outlook is very bleak."
Mr Dutton said the Australian government may ultimately bring some of the women and children home, but not the majority."I don't think it should come as any surprise to people when we say that we're not going to send our soldiers or our staff through the foreign affairs department or my department into harm's way to rescue people of this nature," he told 2GB Radio.
"Some of them," he said, had "the capacity and the potential to come back here to cause a mass casualty event"."We're looking at individual cases, and in some cases it may make sense for us to intervene but in the majority of cases I think people realise that if you go into a war zone and you take your kids into a war zone that's a decision you've made as a parent.
The first group of Turkish infantry prepare to enter Syria.Credit:Getty Images"The fact that you made a decision to destroy the lives of your children, that's something you'll have to live with, but my job is to protect kids back here and make sure that Australians are as safe as possible."
Mr Dutton also confirmed that three women had had their citizenship stripped under Australia's dual citizenship laws. Among them was Zehra Duman, who fled Australia as a teenager to marry an Islamic State militant and then became a social media spruiker for the so-called caliphate.
Loading"The advice in relation to some of these women is, far from being dragged there by their husband or boyfriend, they've gone willingly and/or they are as hardcore as some of the male terrorists."It's believed about 17 dual nationals have had their Australian citizenship stripped since 2015.
The Turkish push into Syrian territory against the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces came after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of his own forces, and said he would not intervene against the Turks.ASIO, other security agencies and anti-terror experts have argued that leaving people and their children in a country such as Syria could increase the level of danger for Australians in the long term if they were radicalised and began recruiting Australians online using tactics honed by Islamic State.
Deakin University academic Greg Bartonsays Australia should bring the women back to face the justice system in this country rather than leaving them in Syria perhaps to escape.A recording attributed to Islamic State's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, last month urged remaining IS fighters to break their "brothers and sisters" out of camps and prisons, saying, "make [an] effort in saving them and destroying the gates that imprison them".
Mohammed Noor Masri is one of the Australians who joined IS, although he denies killing anyone. In April he admitted his "mistake" in joining the terrorist group but begged to be brought home to face justice in Australia.His mother, who asked to remain anonymous, has hit out at the Australian government for ignoring the "dire situation" facing the prisoners and their families.
As US forces withdraw and Turkish forces launch their assault, Mr Masri's mother fears the situation is "going to be a bloodbath"."The Australian government has had six months now to get those people out of there, and they've been sitting on their hands ... it's too late now," she said.
"It's a complete fiasco."The Kurds have been stabbed in the back by the US." Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald »
'Foreign fighters fighting islamic war could die because they chose to be there' fixed your headline for you. JaneCaro they joined the most evil cult group the world has ever seen. i have no pity at all for them but i certainly have worries for their children who had no part to play in this. An absolute pleasure to read, the justice for all these terrorists.
By design Dutton. The processing delays, the security obfuscation, all designed to ensure AU would not have to behave as a responsible nation state and rely on it's democratic institutions to deal with its citizens good and bad. auspol mateship theBlock Imagine if the government had to bail out every Australian who makes a bad life choice.
Thats what you get for entering a war zone you complete and utter muppets Great.. Says Peter Dutton. Won't have to do paperwork here and put them in Christmas Island with the other 5. Keeps cost down too. I love my job..😎 They gave up the right to be called Australian ...... choices and chances deal with it
These women made their bed and so they can now lie in it. Wanker Leave the over there!!!! They decided to go there in the first place!!! Pity these Aussie women and children, sacrificed to the barely-literate 2GB audience who believe every Dutton lie. This country is a moral sewer. And if they are slaughtered their blood is on his hands, they are Australian citizens not charged with a single crime, he has to bring them home by law.
MinhKular Evil How could these Australian women and children possibly 'mount' a 'mass casualty event' in a country that doesn't trust its citizens enough to allow gun ownership? By who ? UN ? Stop exaggerating.
Australia won't 'risk lives' to bring ISIS brides and children to safety: Defence MinisterLinda Reynolds says the government 'will not jeopardise the lives of any other Australians' in response to a decision by the US to withdraw troops from parts of Syria. CroweDM fergushunter But we will risk lives to please President Trump? CroweDM fergushunter But what if they are tired of killing people in the desert and are really really sorry ? CroweDM fergushunter 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
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