Australian PM "working quietly" to rescue orphaned children of IS fighters

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-16 13:54:51|Editor: Shi Yinglun
Video PlayerClose

CANBERRA, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison has confirmed that he is working "behind the scenes" on having the orphaned children of Australian terrorists returned to their native country.

Morrison on Tuesday said that while he was not willing to jeopardize Australian lives to rescue the children stuck in refugee camps and warzones in the Middle East he would work on returning them to Australia safely.

"Of course we are not putting any Australians at risk in terms of going into these conflict zones. I don't think anyone would expect us to do that," he told Adelaide radio station 5AA.

"But we have been working quietly behind the scenes with International Red Cross, we are taking each and every case on its merits.

"Australia's national security always comes first but I am very mindful we are dealing with children here."

His comments came after Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television on Monday night broadcast the plight of Karen Nettleton, the grandmother of deceased Islamic State (IS) fighter Khaled Sharrouf's children, who is trying to bring her grandchildren back to Australia.

Khaled Sharrouf left the country in 2013 to fight for IS in Syria. He was joined by his wife, Tara Nettleton, and his five children later.

According to the ABC, Nettleton died of medical complications in 2015. Of their children, only three have survived. Sharrouf was killed by an airstrike in 2017.

Bill Shorten, leader of the Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP), told reporters on Monday that there was no reason that they should not be allowed back into Australia, according to The Canberra Times.

"They have suffered," he said. "Their parents took them to a war zone, incredibly irresponsibly. These children shouldn't be held responsible for what their parents did."