Australia to launch rescue mission for women and children trapped in Syrian detention camps • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Australia to launch rescue mission for women and children trapped in Syrian detention camps

Exclusive: More than 20 Australian women and more than 40 children related to Islamic State combatants held in al-Hawl And Roj camps

The Australian government is preparing to launch a mission to rescue dozens of Australian women and children trapped in Syrian detention camps.

More than 20 Australian women and more than 40 children – the widows, sons and daughters of slain or jailed Islamic State combatants – remain within the al-Hol and Roj detention camps in north-east Syria.

Australia will repatriate more than 20 of its citizens, most of them children, but will not be able to bring all Australians out of the camps at once. Subsequent operations are expected in coming months.

Many of the women held in the camps say they were coerced or tricked into travelling to Syria by husbands who have since died. Most of the Australian children are under six; several were born in the camps.

In 2019, Australia launched a secret rescue mission to repatriate eight Australian orphans, including a pregnant teenager, from the camps. But since then the government has refused to bring any more home, citing security concerns.

A spokesperson for the home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, told Guardian Australia on Sunday: “The Australian government’s overriding priority is the protection of Australians and Australia’s national interest, informed by national security advice. Given the sensitive nature of the matters involved, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Most of the Australians – including 44 children – are held in the Roj camp, closer to the Iraqi border. It is considered safer than al-Hawl, but malnutrition, illness and violence are common.

Al-Hawl, where one Australian family group and several children with a right to Australian citizenship are held, is considered exceedingly dangerous, with IS still active. More than 100 murders were reported in the 18 months to June this year.

The largely Kurdish, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces last month arrested more than 300 IS operatives inside al-Hawl, seized weapons and liberated at least six women found hidden and chained inside the camp, who had been tortured by IS over years. One of the women had been captured in 2014, aged nine.

 

 

Source: The  Guardian

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