US military praises Australia's efforts in Iraq and Syria, Turnbull calls on Europe to 'step up'

Australian troops. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/ Getty.

Australia’s continued war effort in Iraq and Syria has been praised by the US military, which also backed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for European countries to do more in the fight against ISIS.

“On the list of people who need to step up, they (Australia) are at the bottom,” Colonel Steve Warren, US military spokesman, said yesterday from Iraq.

“[Turnbull’s] right in the fact that other nations who are part of this coalition, there’s a lot more room for them to grow than for the Australians and the New Zealanders.

“Enough is never enough”.

Australia has 300 personnel and the air task group at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad. The forces assist in the training of the Iraqi army, with help from about 100 Kiwis.

As ISIS continues to lose ground, Warren says the next major fight — which will involve units trained by the Australian and New Zealand team — will be to retake the northern city of Mosul of which he says: “They won’t want to give it up.”

But Warren says the training provided by the Australia and New Zealand has strengthened the performance of the units on the ground.

“Good training and being properly equipped has had an impact,” he said.

“We expect the Australian contribution we’ve seen so far will be a major factor in operations to retake Mosul.”

During a brief visit to Australian troops in Iraq over the weekend, Turnbull called on European countries to “step up” with stronger help to defeat Islamic State.

“We’re encouraging other countries, particularly other European countries, NATO countries, to step up and make a greater contribution, too,” he said.

Australia’s military contribution to Iraq remains the second-largest after the US. In December last year Italy’s PM announced that the country would send 450 soldiers to Iraq. Should Italy come through on its promise, its contribution would surpass Australia’s.

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