Australia Strikes Deal With Iraq Over Special Forces Troop Deployments

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Bart Maat-Pool/Getty Images

Around 200 Australian special forces commandos will work alongside Iraqi security forces in an advisory role to tackle Islamic State, as part of a deal brokered by Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop in Baghdad over the weekend.

The legal framework for deployment was finalised during Bishop’s two-day visit to the Iraqi capital, and the foreign minister reiterated that there were no plans to use ground troops in the war against Islamic militants.

“It will be a matter for our military to determine when our special forces will be deployed, so it will be an operational matter from now on,” the foreign minister said.

Special forces soldiers have been waiting in the UAE since mid-September until they received legal protection from the Iraqi government to establish their rules of engagement.

The foreign minister met with Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abadi, President Masoum, and other senior leaders for briefings, along with international coalition partners.

“I emphasised the importance of the Iraqi Government’s efforts to deliver policies that share power and resources amongst Iraq’s various communities,” she said.

“I also met groups of minority leaders to hear their concerns and to underline Australia’s close interest in the protection of minorities in Iraq.”

Meanwhile, the six RAAF FA-18 superhornets based in the UAE have conducted more than 40 missions over Iraq in a fortnight and last week Treasurer Joe Hockey visited the Australian base while in Dubai for talks with the UAE’s Ministry of Finance.

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