Australia is set to deploy hundreds of troops against Islamic State militants in Iraq. The task force, which will include Special Forces military advisors and assault jets, will be stationed in UAE as part of a “humanitarian operation.”
Five years after the complete withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq in July 2009, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that the country’s military would be returning to the Middle East, this time to help defeat militants from the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS / ISIL). The decision was preceded by a formal request for help from the government of new Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi, as well as from the United States, which has already “declared war” on Islamic State.
“It is right for Australia to do what it prudently and proportionately can to support international efforts to prevent the spread of ISIL, roll back its gains and alleviate suffering in Iraq,” Abbott said in Darwin after meeting with the Cabinet and the National Security Committee earlier Sunday, where the decision on sending troops to the Middle East was taken.
Abbott said that at least 60 Australian citizens are believed to be fighting in the ranks of Islamic State and other terrorist groups, while about 100 others are supporting these extremists.
“Australia is prepared to engage in international operations to disrupt and degrade ISIL because of the threat that this murderous death cult poses not just to the people of Iraq, not just to the people of the Middle East, but to the whole world, including to Australia,” he said.
“Again I stress that this movement is neither Islamic nor a state. It is a death cult reaching out to countries such as Australia,” Abbott said, adding that presence of the country’s troops in the Middle East is about “taking prudent and proportionate action to protect our country and to protect the wider world against an unprecedented terrorist threat.”
“There are obviously further decisions to be taken before Australian forces will be committed to combat operations in Iraq,” he said.