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‘They’re just normal people’: Australian woman urges government to rescue relatives from a Syrian refugee camp

An Australian woman who has 11 relatives in a Syrian refugee camp has pleaded for the Australian government to rescue them.

Sonya Abbas visited al-Hawl camp to visit her sister and other relatives in July, and says her family members pose no threat.

“I’ve witnessed them and I know that they are not a security risk,” she said.

“They are just normal people.”

She pleaded for the government to bring Australians in the Syrian camp home and investigate them here.

“They need to actually investigate them face-to-face,” she said.

“Get them out, see what they have to say.

“Bring them home. They need to be home because they are not a security risk to Australia.”

But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the intelligence he has received indicates women in the camp pose a serious security risk.

“The advice I’ve received from ASIO and the other agencies is that some of these women are as bad as any male terrorists that they’ve seen over there,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“I think it’s very difficult to see how these people can come back to Australia.”

Mr Dutton doubled down on his assertion that he won’t put the lives of Australian soldiers at risk to save those who left the country to join ISIS.

“This is an incredibly dangerous situation and the government has been very clear that we aren’t going to put defence personnel, or DFAT personnel, or home affairs personnel, in harms way to provide support to these people,” he said.

“It is a horrific circumstance that these parents have placed their own children in, but people have made decisions when they’ve left our shores to go there, into the theatre of war.

“This is a very difficult, perilous situation and I understand the angst of the families, but we have considerations to make about national security.”

But Ms Abbas refuted the claim that soldiers would need to risk their lives to rescue Australians from el-Hawl camp.

“You don’t need to go inside. All it is basically is verbal consent from the embassy to the Kurdish government,” she said.

The Australian government rescued eight orphaned Australian children from the camp before the situation in the region escalated.

Press PLAY for more from Sonya Abbas.

Press PLAY below to hear what Peter Dutton had to say.

Image: Delil Souleiman