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Andrew Brown

IS family repatriation 'not taken lightly'

Tony Burke says the repatriation decision was informed by the best national security advice. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Federal minister Tony Burke has stressed the government's decision to repatriate Australian families with links to Islamic State was not taken lightly.

Four Australian women, who have been in the al-Roj camp in Syria since the fall of the terrorist group, as well as 13 children, arrived in Sydney on Saturday, following a secret operation.

Mr Burke defended the decision to repatriate the families, despite the links to the terror group.

"The government has made these decisions after being informed by the best national security advice, we need to remember the individuals we're talking about here are Australians," he told the Nine Network on Sunday.

"All of these decisions, nothing's been taken lightly."

The Albanese government earlier this month confirmed a rescue plan was in place for 16 women and 42 children who are families of IS members.

The first to be removed from Syria were assessed as the most vulnerable.

Nationals leader David Littleproud disagreed with the decision, saying Australian citizens needed to be kept safe.

"Sometimes governments have to take tough decisions, have to do it for the greater good, rather than the individual," he told the Nine Network.

"I just hope that that can be translated to the Australian people, they get comfort, that these people have come back and pose us no risk into the future."

Mr Burke said appropriate precautions had been taken.

"We need to remember a lot of the people we're talking about here are children," he said,

"Some of the women that we're talking about were tricked in terms of their own personal circumstances."

Most of the children were born in Syria, meaning they'll be seeing Australia for the first time.

Germany, France and Denmark have also brought their citizens home from Syria.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has argued the extractions were not in the national interest, saying their arrival could raise the risk of future terrorism in Australia.

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