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Tara Nettleton, widow of Australian Islamic State terrorist, dies in Syria

Tara Nettleton, the widow of Australian Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, has died in Syria from complications associated with appendicitis.

The former Sydney woman is believed to have died some time ago after she was unable to access life-saving health services.

It is believed that the mother-of-five was living in Raqqa with four of her children and one grandchild as recently as last year after the death of her husband.

Family friend Robert van Alst confirmed that Tara had died last year, but said that her mother, Karen Nettleton, had been informed only recently.

Mr van Alst said the news of the death of her only child had left Karen devastated. "She said it was the worst day of her life. And it was made worse because she could not be with her daughter when she was dying, to give her comfort," he said.


Karen said the second worst day of her life was knowing that her grandchildren and great-grandchild did not have her there to look after them, Mr van Alst told Fairfax Media.

He and Karen are now most concerned about Tara's children, who are just "innocent Australian kids", he said.

Mr van Alst said Tara had suffered from a related illness before she left Australia.

It is understood that she died from complications after having surgery for appendicitis.

Mr van Alst said that Karen had told him she felt, for the first time, the reality of the situation in Syria, and how the people, who are desperately trying to get out, must feel.

Sharrouf slipped out of Australia in December 2013 using his brother's passport and joined Islamic State, meeting up with his friend and fellow terrorist, Mohamed Elomar.

Tara and their children followed via Turkey soon afterwards.

Sharrouf achieved global notoriety when he tweeted a picture of his son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier, captioned "That's my boy."

The photo, posted by a Twitter account then believed to belong to Elomar, spruiks him as the "young cub of the Islamic State".

In June last year, Karen told Fairfax Media how she was watching television at home when she received a text message from Tara's eldest daughter, Zaynab, who had married Elomar.

Elomar had been killed and Zaynab had become a widow.

"Hello Nana, how are you?" the text read. "My husband got hit by a drone yesterday and got killed. When I found out I was happy for him to get what he wanted and go to paradise but at the same time I was devastated because I loved him so much and I knew I was never gonna see him again in this life."

Following the deaths of Sharrouf and Elomar, Karen begged the Australian government to let Tara - who converted to Islam and married Sharrouf a decade ago - and her children return to Australia.

She said Tara was desperate to come home and had made the "mistake of a lifetime" by following the jihadist to the Islamic State war zone.

Karen said last June her daughter and grandchildren were in need of help more than ever.

"[They] more than ever need the love and care of their family to help them recover from the trauma, abuse and terrors of war they have experienced," she said.

The Australian Federal Police declined to comment on Wednesday night and referred the matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT).

DFAT has been contacted for comment.

Tara's father, Peter Nettleton, refused to comment to the media when he arrived at his home in Panania in Sydney's south with his wife on Thursday morning.

Mr Nettleton has previously said he became estranged from his daughter nine years ago and only receives updates on her through the news. 

He has remarried and has three children.

Late last year, when attempts were being made to bring the family home, he said, "I still love my daughter and I hope she comes home safely."

When approached outside the home, his wife said, "No, no." 

With Rachel Olding