The children of terrorists will be subject to the full force of the law, Prime Minister Tony Abbott insists, as authorities continue to try to confirm Australia's most notorious Islamic State recruits have been killed in Iraq.
Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar are believed to have been killed in Mosul in northern Iraq amid a wave of coalition airstrikes, which have also taken out a number of high-profile Islamic State targets, over the past week.
It's understood the body of Elomar has been recovered.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday confirmed authorities had been aware of Elomar's presence in Mosul for "some time" but that the security situation in Iraq meant it was difficult to verify the deaths of two of Australia's most wanted terrorists.
"The likelihood of verification in relation to Mr Elomar is probably imminent. However, in relation to Mr Sharrouf, we're still seeking to verify the reports," Ms Bishop said.
Coalition aircraft conducted 28 airstrikes on Islamic State terrorists in Mosul on six of the seven days in the past week, with seven strikes on June 15 alone, conducted by both piloted aircraft and drones.
The US on Tuesday confirmed that Ali Awni al Harzi, a suspect in an attack on a US mission in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on September 11, 2012, that killed the American ambassador, was also killed over the past week.
Sharrouf and Elomar gained notoriety last year after posing in photos holding the severed heads of Syrian soldiers. Their deaths, if confirmed, come as Sharrouf's wife Tara Nettleton is believed to be wanting to return to Sydney with the couple's five children, including a seven-year-old boy also photographed last year holding a severed head.
Mr Abbott on Tuesday described the former Sydney men as "evil terrorists".
"I just want to say that both of them were out and out terrorists and the warning that we have been giving to Australians is don't go overseas to join a terrorist army," Mr Abbott said.
The comments came as Mr Abbott was answering questions on plans to strip dual nationals engaged in terrorism of their Australian citizenship.
Asked about the children of terrorists, Mr Abbott said they "will be subject to the law".
"And the law will be enforced with its full rigour by this government to keep our community safe," Mr Abbott said.
Ms Bishop said the return of Khaled Sharrouf's family to Australia will only be considered after his death has been confirmed.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the welfare of the children must be a priority.
"I feel very much for the children. For me the wellbeing of the children is what's important," he said. "In terms of the wife, we need to get a briefing from the government on what's happening."
Peter Nettleton, Sharrouf's father-in-law, told the Daily Telegraph the reported deaths filled him with joy.
"I was ecstatic when I heard he was dead. It's great news."