Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Australian troops to aid Iraq in battle against ISIS/ISIL

Australia is to send a contingent of troops to work alongside New Zealand forces in Iraq to help in the continuing battle against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL).

About 330 troops will train the Iraqi military at Taji base north of Baghdad, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Prime Minister Tony Abbott as saying Tuesday.

Abbott warned that the two-year training mission would not be "risk-free."

"It's not a combat mission, but Iraq is a dangerous place… and I can't tell you that this is risk-free," he said.

Abbott added that any decision on extending Australian involvement into neighboring Syria had yet to be made.

"We've made no decision along those lines and we have no plans to extend our air campaign at this stage," he said, but added that Australian refuellers and radar planes were already helping with other countries' strikes inside the country.

He said that the first of the troops would leave for Iraq on Wednesday, and would be working alongside the around 100 soldiers from New Zealand at Taji by the middle of May.

Abbot underlined that by helping to strengthen Iraq's army, it would lessen the role of Shiite militias who have made some of the most significant gains against Daesh on the ground.

"The stronger the Iraqi regular army is, the less likely it is that Shiite militia will play a continuing role in the ultimate retaking of the country," he said.

"So by strengthening the Iraqi Army, we are giving the Iraqi government a whole lot of options that it may not currently have."

The Australian mission is set to last for two years, but will come under review after 12 months.


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