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Australian women, children 'abducted' from Syria refugee camp: reports

Australia has previously ruled out retrieving dozens of nationals from Syria's Al-Hol camp [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 September, 2020

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A number of Australian women and children were forcibly removed from a Syrian camp housing the families of Islamic State fighters, Australian media reported.
Australian women and children were abducted from a camp in northern Syria housing tens of thousands of female supporters of the Islamic State [IS] group and their children, Australian media reported on Tuesday.

Five women and 14 children were forcibly removed after a midnight raid on the camp, Australian national Kamalle Dabboussy, whose daughter Mariam and grandchildren are in the camp, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Dabboussy said his daughter was not abducted, but he had been unable to reach her.

A spokesman for families of Al-Hol's Australian detainees said the women were strip-searched and handcuffed before being led away in front of their children, according to ABC.

The abductees were taken away in a white van, with the identities of their captors remaining unknown, The Guardian reported.

According to the United Nations, at least 74,000 people languish at the Al-Hol camp.

It is operated by US-allied Kurdish forces that played a key role in dismantling the extremist group's self-styled caliphate, which once sprawled across large areas of Syria and Iraq.

The extremists no longer control any territory, but continue to carry out sporadic attacks in both countries.

At least eight children under the age of five died last month from health problems linked to the  camp's dire conditions.

Restrictions and quarantine measures imposed to prevent a coronavirus outbreak have hindered aid operations.

With few exceptions, Western countries have refused to repatriate the camp's foreign residents, citing security concerns.

Australia ruled out retrieving dozens of nationals in the camp, having refused to send Australian troops or officials into the war-torn nation.

Prior to the abduction, about 46 Australian women and children who fled IS-held territory were being held at the Al-Hol camp in northern Syria.

Eight Australian children of two slain IS group fighters were removed from Syria in June last year, in Australia's only organised repatriation from the conflict zone.

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