A spokesman for Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Friday that the government has received reports that over 100 Australians are involved in the ongoing violence in Syria.
“Penalty (is) imprisonment for 20 years,” said the spokesman, adding, “Anyone in Australia who recruits someone to fight overseas faces seven years.”
Under Australia’s Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978: “A person shall not enter a foreign state with intent to engage in a hostile activity… or engage in a hostile activity in a foreign state.”
The announcement comes after at least three Australians, including a man from Melbourne, were reportedly killed in Syria.
One of the Australians reported dead in the Arab country was a man from Melbourne who had travelled to Syria under the name of Abu al-Walid al-Australi. He was killed while fighting alongside the militants.
Joseph Wakim, the founder of Australian Arabic Council, also said that many of those who went to Syria claimed that they were delivering humanitarian aid to the crisis-hit country, but were engaged in the fighting instead.
Wakim also urged greater surveillance over the Australians who travel to Syria.
Many people, including a large number of Syrian security forces, have lost their lives over the past months of unrest in Syria that began in March 2011.
Damascus says certain Western states, especially the United States, and their regional allies are fueling the unrest, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants fighting in the country are foreign nationals.