|Australia announced Tuesday it will send another 300 troops to Iraq in a joint mission with New Zealand.|
The decision follows Wellington last week deciding to deploy some 140 soldiers in a non-combat role to boost the Iraqi military’s ability to battle the ‘jihadists’.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the decision followed a formal request from the Iraqi and US governments with the mission intended to span two years.
“I want to stress that we haven’t taken this decision lightly. Ultimately, it is Iraq that must defeat the death cult (ISIL) but we do not want to leave the Iraqis on their own,” he told reporters.
“We are naturally reluctant as a peace-loving people to reach out to far-away conflicts but, as we know, this conflict has been reaching out to us for months now.”
Some 170 Australian special forces are already in Iraq helping to train government troops, and Abbott said it was in his country’s national interest to bolster their presence.
He said about 100 Australians were fighting with ISIL and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.
“About another 150 here at home are supporting these extremists so this commitment is a matter of domestic as well as international security, and I stress this is absolutely and utterly in Australia’s national interests to do this,” he said.