Australians troops will play an 'evolutionary role' in Iraq, says PM

Tony Abbott bids farewell to Australian forces heading to the Middle East. Photo: Getty Images

Australia is stepping up its military presence in Iraq as worldwide pressure mounts to combat Islamic State in the Middle East.

According to The Australian, discussions with the United States about Australia’s role in Iraq’s Anbar province are already under way with existing troops playing a new “evolutionary role”.

While the Abbott government is “seeking a clear definition from the United States,” it is believed that Australian troops will not take on any combat roles or air force campaigns in Syria.

The move to increase Australia’s role in Iraq comes just weeks after a series of terrorism attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait killed more than 60 people, prompting Australia to condemn them as “brutal and horrific”.

“This illustrates, yet again, that as far as the Daesh death cult is concerned, it is coming after us,” said Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“We may not always feel that we are at war with them, but they certainly think that they are at war with us.

Earlier this year, Abbott deployed an additional 330 troops to Iraq saying that whilst work against ISIL had been effective so far, “large swathes of Iraq remain in the control of the death cult.”

There are currently troops 700 Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Iraq who have been responsible for building the capacity of Iraq’s security forces to curb the spread of violent extremism on home soil.

In a statement, Abbott warned that the move would mark the next phase of “Australia’s contribution to the international coalition to disrupt, degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, or Daesh, and follows requests for our participation from the Iraqi and United States Governments”.

“Working together, the Iraqi security forces and their coalition partners have stemmed Daesh’s onslaught. Now Iraq’s security forces require international training support to conduct effective offensive operations against Daesh and ultimately to take responsibility for their country’s security.”

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