The eldest of the Sharrouf orphans has given birth in Iraq only two days after she, her two siblings and her two young daughters were rescued from Syria by an aid agency working with the Australian Government.
- Zaynab Sharrouf has given birth to her third child days after being rescued from Syria and turning 18
- The birth frees the children to return to Australia in as soon as a week
- The three young orphans of Melbourne Islamic State fighter Yasin Rizvic are also expected to return to Australia within days
The ABC understands the child was born on Monday in an undisclosed location.
The newborn is the third child for 18-year-old Zaynab, who was married at the age of 13 to the best friend of her Islamic State (IS) group fighter father, Khaled Sharrouf.
Zaynab Sharrouf’s husband, Sydney man Mohamed Elomar who was also an IS fighter, was killed in a US airstrike soon after they married.
Zaynab gave birth to his child, Aiyesha, now aged three, soon after his death. She was then married to another IS supporter in Syria, to whom she had Fatimah, now aged two.
It is her second husband — whose fate is unknown — who fathered the newborn.
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Watch the moment Karen Nettleton is reunited with her grandchildren in a Syrian refugee campABC NEWS
Yesterday’s birth was the single biggest complicating factor in organising the Sharrouf childrens’ repatriation. The Australian has reported that they could return home to Australia as soon as next week.
Zaynab and her 17-year-old sister Hoda and eight-year-old brother Humzeh were taken from Syria in a vehicle convoy on Sunday evening Australian time and are now being cared for by their maternal grandmother, Karen Nettleton, in Iraq.
The ABC is withholding their exact location due to concerns for their safety.
With them are Zaynab’s daughters, Aiyesha and Fatimah, and now her newborn.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the rescue of the Sharrouf children when it occurred.
“Children should not be punished for the sins of their parents,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Also removed from Syria in the same convoy were the three young Australian children of a slain Islamic state fighter from Melbourne, Yasin Rizvic.
The rescue mission was the culmination of several months of secret negotiations between Canberra and Kurdish authorities in north-eastern Syria.
Ms Nettleton could not be contacted about the birth and plans for the repatriation of the children.
‘Don’t I have the right to live a normal life?’
The Sharrouf children were taken to Syria and IS by their mother and Sharrouf’s wife, Tara Nettleton, in February 2014.
She was following her husband, who left Australia several months earlier on his brother’s passport.
In mid 2015 Tara Nettleton died of health complications in Mosul, Iraq.
Zaynab Sharrouf’s husband, Elomar, was killed in an air strike soon after her death.
The children returned to Raqqa, Syria, with their father. Then in August 2017, Sharrouf and his two eldest sons Abdullah, 12, and Zarqawi, 11, were killed in a US air strike.
The children escaped IS when they fled the group’s last Syrian redoubt, Baghouz, in March.
Between March and Sunday, the Sharroufs were held at a series of detention camps in Kurdish-controlled north-eastern Syria.
It was in March in the first of those camps, al-Hawl, that the children were reunited with Karen Nettleton after five years.
At the time Zaynab told the ABC they were desperate to return to Australia and had wanted to flee IS for a long time but were too scared.
“People leave and no-one hears anything from them anymore,” she said.
She said they did not know they were going to Syria in 2014.
“We weren’t the ones that chose to come here in the first place. We were brought here by our parents,” Zaynab Sharrouf said.
She also told the ABC she and her siblings posed no risk if they returned to Australia.
“For me and my children, I want to live a normal life just like anyone would want to live a normal life,” she said.
“Don’t I have the right to live a normal life?”