Today I have declared the area of Al-Raqqa province in Syria under section 119.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.  This means it will be an offence under Australian law to enter, or remain in, Al-Raqqa province without a legitimate purpose.  This province is ISIL’s de facto capital from which its operations are largely directed.

Under section 119.2 of the Criminal Code, a person who enters or remains in a declared area without a legitimate purpose faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Foreign fighters and supporters of foreign conflicts pose a significant threat to Australia and our way of life.

Declaring Al-Raqqa province under the Criminal Code sends a strong message to those Australians who seek to participate in the Syrian conflict. 

As part of our comprehensive response to combating the threat of foreign fighters, the Government is determined to stop Australians from supporting and engaging in hostile activities with listed terrorist organisations.

The ISIL terrorist organisation is engaging in significant hostile activities in Al-Raqqa, including the murder of opponents, the rape and enslavement of women, and the intimidation and subjugation of the civilian population to their brutal control.  It is one of the world’s most deadly and active terrorist organisations, and has been listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia under its various names since 2005.

Any Australians who are currently in Al-Raqqa province without legitimate purpose should leave immediately. The travel advice for Syria on the Smartraveller website has been updated.

This is the first such declaration under the Criminal Code. I am giving consideration to declaring additional areas where ISIL is engaging in hostile activities.

Further information on the declared area offence, including the declaration of Al-Raqqa province, can be found on the Australian National Security website.

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