Fears Australian youths being lured into Syrian combat

Young Australians are being brainwashed and used as ''cannon fodder'' in the bitter political conflict in Syria, the state's most senior multiculturalism adviser says.

Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian will step down as president of the Anti-Discrimination Board and chair of the Community Relations Commission on Friday in the midst of one of the most challenging crises he has seen in his 25 years in the job.

He said young Australians were being lured to Syria under the guise of defending their religion.

''I've never seen a situation where people are being misled like this,'' he said. ''They are being duped. There are evil people in the world who simply seek political power. They seek fervent young men as cannon fodder to achieve that power.''

Dr Kerkyasharian felt compelled to speak out after young couple Amira and Yusuf Ali from Sydney's west were killed in Syria on Saturday by suspected in-fighting between rebel factions.

Their family is not sure why they went to the war-torn country after visiting friends in Denmark at Christmas.

Mr Ali, from America, converted to Islam four years ago after a chance dinner with a Muslim man in his Gold Coast apartment block.

''On that night, he became Muslim,'' a friend said.

Ms Ali, 22, who grew up a moderate Muslim in Queensland, met Mr Ali in Sydney and married him in 2012, two weeks after she started wearing the niqab.

Facebook posts document their growing fanaticism with both speaking of a desire to die martyrs.

They spent an increasing amount of time attending the Masjid Al Noor in Granville, Masjid Al Taqwa in Lidcombe and Masjid Omar in Auburn and were lectured by local sheikhs. Family said the pair were doing aid work in Syria.

Abdul Salam Mahmoud from the Sydney Street Dawah Movement, which Mr Ali was part of, said he ''spent the last days of his life giving Dawah [proselytising] to Islam in the streets and giving victory to Islam in the battlefield''.

Dr Kerkyasharian said the brainwashing of young Australians was ''certainly a game changer and probably one of the most challenging moments in our society''.

Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said police were monitoring local leaders and organisations that were radicalising young Australians and encouraging them to go to Syria.

"Clearly we have concerns this is happening,'' she said.

Zaky Mallah, self-appointed spokesman for the Free Syrian Army in Sydney, said political fighting between rebel groups in Aleppo had intensified so much in recent months that they were warning Australians to stay away.

This story Fears Australian youths being lured into Syrian combat first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.