Melbourne: Victoria’s anti-terrorism taskforce on Friday said women were the new targets for recruitment in the Islamic State militant group as they are being offered marriage, a lavish lifestyle and security while in the Middle East.

More than a dozen young Australian women have attempted to join IS strongholds in the Middle East over the last two months, Xinhua reported.

Five of the known defectors have successfully travelled to Syria, while four made it to Turkey before they were intercepted by authorities.

Two are currently unaccounted for and one woman was apprehended by border protection officials in Australia.

The women, as young as 18, are said to have been lured by recruiters over social media.

Victoria Police’s Assistant Commissioner Tracy Linford, who runs the state’s anti-terror taskforce, said that young women were being lured as much as young men.

She said that recruiters preyed on vulnerable women who could be easily influenced to travel to conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq.

“We want people to understand that it’s not just a phenomenon of young men wanting to travel over to the conflict zone and join IS, there are women that are being lured there as well,” Linford said.

She said police, however, were not aware of the full number of defectors.

Linford said the young women, mostly between the ages of 18 and 20, had been fooled by the prospect of a “romantic view of life”.

“They are told they have an important role to play in setting up the Islamic State.”

She added that families needed to be the first line of defence against defectors heading to conflict zones.

Linford told family members to keep abreast of changing behavioural patterns in young men and women, particularly if they are disengaging from friendship and family circles.

Victoria Police estimate that 30 men had joined the ranks of IS in the same time period.

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