Children of ISIS fighter Khaled Sharrouf have left Syria for Australia
It is the first time the Australian children of an ISIS extremist have been rescued and returned to the country
Eight Australian children caught in the Syrian war after their parents joined ISIS are on their way from a refugee camp to their homeland.
The group includes five family members of Khaled Sharrouf, an Australian terrorist who is infamously known for posing in a photo next to his son, then aged seven, who was holding a severed human head. This child and another son are believed to have been killed in Syria.
Surviving family members who will return to Australia include Sharrouf’s elder daughter, 17, who is pregnant, and her two daughters. Then there are Sharrouf’s youngest son, 8, and another daughter, aged 16.
The children were taken to Syria in 2014 by their mother, Tara Nettleton, who followed her husband to the war-torn country.
The other three children heading to Australia are aged between 6 and 12. They are the children of ISIS fighter Yasin Rizvic and his wife, Fauzia Bacha, who are both dead. They also joined ISIS in 2014.
The eight children crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan at 3.30pm local time on Sunday and were taken in by Australian officials.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to repatriate the children had not been made lightly but the children should not be punished for their parents’ crimes.
“As I have said repeatedly, my government would not allow any Australian to be put at risk,” Mr Morrison said.
“The fact that parents put their children into harm’s way by taking them into a war zone was a despicable act.”
It is the first time Australian children born to ISIS members have been rescued from Syria.
European countries have been repatriating such children in recent months, after ISIS lost its last stronghold in the village of Baghouz in March.
France and the Netherlands are among the countries that have repatriated children of ISIS fighters.
Some European countries, such as the UK, have been more cautious when it comes to repatriating children from Syria, refusing to take them because of security concerns.
A report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, which was published last year, estimated that up to 41,490 international citizens from 80 countries joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria between April 2013 and June 2018.
Updated: June 24, 2019 10:59 AM