No evacuations during Syrian ceasefire

Peter Dutton has ruled out extracting Australian women and children from refugee camps during a brief ceasefire in Syria.

Kamalle Dabboussy, whose daughter and grandchildren are trapped in north-eastern Syria, has urged Australia to seize the opportunity during the halt to hostilities.

“It’s given us some short-term stability,” he told AAP on Friday.


“It’s a must that the Australians are made safe.”

But the home affairs minister said it was still far too dangerous to send Australian troops or diplomats into the war-torn nation.

“The advice is consistent to us, and that is, that there’s not an opportunity, given the danger there at the moment,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra.

“We’ve been able to bring back some orphans, as you know, but we’re not in a position where we’re able to go into those camps.”

Mr Dutton blames the parents of the 46 Australian children in al-Hawl for dragging them into a theatre of war.

“But we have been very clear – we’re not going to put Australian defence, foreign affairs, or home affairs personnel or other agencies’ staff at risk,” he said.

Mr Dutton is hopeful the Syrian ceasefire will lead to lasting peace.

“I hope that, like every observer of this, that there can be peace and people can return back to their villages,” he said.

“We know that in the original Syrian conflict there were about five million people who were displaced.

“So, this has always been a very difficult part of the world, we know that, and I hope that conflict can come to an end as soon as possible.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne also urged all parties to the Syrian conflict to make the halt in fighting permanent.

“At this early point, the full implications of the conditions of the deal have yet to be understood,” she told AAP.

“Australia’s highest priorities are to stop a resurgence of Daesh (Islamic State) and to focus on avoiding a humanitarian crisis.

“We will be deeply concerned at any indications of deliberate demographic changes to the population of the conflict zone.”

© AAP 2019