Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Penrith, Sydney, Thursday, June, 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
The Australian government has evacuated eight children of two dead Islamic State fighters from a Syrian refugee camp, saying they should not be punished for the crimes of their parents.
In the group are the offspring of jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, including his heavily pregnant 17-year-old daughter Zaynab and her own two daughters, his son Humzeh, eight, and another daughter Hoda, 16.
The others are three children aged between six and 12, who are the offspring of ISIS fighter Yasin Rizvic and his wife, Fauzia Khamal Bacha, who is also dead.
The operation has been confirmed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
"Repatriating these children was not a decision the Australian government made lightly," he said in a statement.
"The fact that parents put their children into harm's way by taking them into a war zone was a despicable act," he added.
"However, children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents."
The operation to repatriate the children has been under consideration for months.
Both sets of children are being taken to a "safe location" outside of Syria before making the journey to Australia where they are likely to be settled in Melbourne, The Australian said.
The welfare and support needs of each child will be considered before they are returned to Australia, the prime minister says.
The Sharrouf children were in April reunited with their Sydney grandmother, Karen Nettleton, in al-Hawl camp in northern Syria where those fleeing ISIS last enclave at Baghouz ended up.
It's believed Mrs Nettleton, who had not seen her grandchildren since 2014, had been negotiating with officials to bring them back to Australia.
Sharrouf was killed in an air strike in September 2017, along with - it's believed - his two older sons, Abdullah, 12, and Zarqawi, 11.
The children's mother, Mrs Nettleton's daughter Tara, died of medical complications in 2015.
Zaynab told the ABC in April she and her siblings had no choice over being taken into the war zone.
"We weren't the ones that chose to come here in the first place," she told the Four Corners program.
"We were brought here by our parents. And now that our parents are gone, we want to live. And for me and my children I want to live a normal life just like anyone would want to live a normal life."
Her sister Hoda, who was 11 when she was taken out of Australia, told Four Corners: "I didn't know I was in Syria until after we crossed the borders and I heard people speaking Arabic."
"I asked my mum where we were. And she told me we were in Syria. I started crying."
The Sharrouf children shot to notoriety when their father released a photograph of Abdullah holding the severed head of a Syrian man.
© AAP 2019