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Terror battlefields claim 65 Aust lives

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

As many as 65 Australians have been killed in fighting in Syria and Iraq, out of 200 who have joined the conflict since 2012.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan told a security conference in Canberra on Tuesday another 200 Australians were being investigated for providing support to individuals and groups in the Syria-Iraq conflict or were seeking to travel there.

"Despite the degrading of ISIL and the shrinking of the so-called caliphate, the attraction of the conflict in Syria and Iraq to some Australians continues," he said.

The figure of between 57 and 65 Australians killed is up by six on an estimate given in May by the head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation Duncan Lewis.

Mr Keenan said 180 Australian passports had been cancelled or refused in relation to the conflict.

Within Australia, since the national terrorism threat level was raised to "probable" in 2014, there have been 47 people charged as a result of 18 counter-terrorism operations - representing half of all terrorism-related charges since 2001.

The minister said while four significant national security and counter-terrorism laws had been passed since 2014, there was a need for more work.

"A further two pieces of legislation will be introduced to the parliament next month, including a post-sentence preventative-detention scheme for high-risk terrorist offenders," he said.

The community also needed to do more to prevent people becoming radicalised and influenced by extremist ideologies in the first place.

Mr Keenan released a new "how-to" guide on countering violent extremism produced by the government and the Hedayah Institute, aimed at communities in Southeast Asia.

"We expect the terrorism threat to increase in Southeast Asia," the minister said.

"We know that at least 500 people, and possibly more than 800, have already travelled from Southeast Asian countries to fight in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

"The return of these fighters to the region has the potential to place unprecedented strains on Southeast Asia's security infrastructure, and on the security and stability of the region more broadly."

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