Australia

Payne sidesteps Aussies detained in Syria

Australian women and children are believed to be among those living in refugee camps in Syria. (AAP)

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has not denied recent Kurdish claims that the country is yet to make any contact over Australian IS fighters being held in Syria.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has avoided talking about the fate of Australian Islamic State fighters currently detained in Syria.

Dr Abdulkarim Omar, foreign minister for the semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave in Syria, has told the ABC his administration plans to put all foreign IS members on trial.

"We don't have plans to send any Australians or other foreign IS prisoners to third countries. Those people need to be judged here," he told the broadcaster on Thursday.

Dr Omar has asked for foreign assistance to pursue the legal option but also added Australia had made no contact about its own citizens being held in Syria.

Ms Payne did not deny the claims and changed the subject to the children of Australian fighters in Syria, particularly orphans.

"Well, I have not seen those recent comments, but self-evidently, having seen the reports of a number, particularly of orphan children, we have worked extremely diligently, extremely hard to ensure their safe removal from very, very difficult circumstances in Syria," she told reporters in London.

Australian Jahangir Alam has been begging the Australian government to repatriate his 26-year-old son Mahir Absar Alam, who is in a Kurdish-run prison, and his wife and two children, from Syria.

Mahir Absar Alam was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces earlier this year after leaving Melbourne to join IS in 2014.

"We feel very sad about it. We hope the government would think he should not be stateless as an Australian citizen," Mr Alam told the ABC on Thursday.

Senator Payne stressed it was a difficult situation because some Australian IS fighters and their partners had chosen to take their children into "the most dangerous circumstance imaginable".

But again she focused on Mr Alam's children rather than making any comment on his circumstances or any possible trial.

"There is an expectation that Australian officials should put themselves in harm's way to extricate those children, who have been left by their families," the minister said.

"We have worked extremely diligently, as I said, over an extended period. This is not an easy process, this is a very difficult, very complex set of negotiations in a very dangerous environment.

"We've worked very hard to ensure that those children that we have been able to remove were removed from that dire circumstance to a position of safety and we will continue to work in that way, where we need to."

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