Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decided to “prepare and deploy” a military force to the Middle East.
Addressing media at Robertson Barracks Army Base outside Darwin in the Northern Territory, the PM said the US has requested military support in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
“We have received a specific request from the United States government to contribute forces to possible military action in Iraq,” Abbott said.
“The force will comprise up to eight super hornet aircraft, an early warning and control aircraft, an aerial refuelling aircraft, and a Special Forces contingent that could act as military advisers to the Iraqi armed forces or to the Peshmerga.”
600 Australian personnel will assist in the coalition’s fight against Islamic State.
Australia’s military contingency will be deployed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and await further instruction.
Abbott warned Australians that should military forces engage in the fight against ISIS, this military action may last “months, rather than weeks… perhaps many months indeed,” he said.
“My conversation with President Obama, gave me to understand that America is committed to a lengthy contribution to this mission,” Abbott said.
Abbott said Cabinet and the National Security Committee met earlier today to discuss the reality of military cooperation.
“This is an international coalition. It is not just the US and Australia,” Abbott said, adding that a number of Western and Middle Eastern countries have signed on to join the fight against ISIS.
Australia joins the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Jordan, France, the UAE and other countries in the battle to bring down terror-driven Islamic State.
The PM said the President of Iraq Haider al-Abadi welcomed Australia’s decision to have a military presence in the country.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has pledged his full support for military deployment.
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