Australia to deploy 300 ad­di­tional troops to Iraq


Australia’s gov­ern­ment said Tues­day it had com­pleted prepa­ra­tions to send about 300 ad­di­tional troops to Iraq and would deploy them over the com­ing weeks.

The troops will work along­side about 100 New Zealand troops at the Taji base north of Bagh­dad. Australia’s gov­ern­ment said the com­bined force isn’t be­ing de­ployed in a com­bat role but rather to train Iraqi forces to fight the Is­lamic State (IS) group.

The troops are part of an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion ef­fort to de­feat the group, which is also known as ISIS and Daesh.

Australia al­ready has 170 spe­cial forces troops in Bagh­dad ad­vis­ing and as­sist­ing Iraqi se­cu­rity forces. An­other 400 Aus­tralian air force per­son­nel are sup­port­ing airstrikes against Is­lamic State tar­gets from a base out­side Dubai.

New Zealand’s de­ploy­ment will rep­re­sent its first in the cur­rent con­flict.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott and De­fense Min­is­ter Kevin An­drews said in a state­ment the mission would be op­er­a­tional in May and was com­mit­ted to two years with regular re­views.

“The mission of the Aus­tralian and New Zealand train­ers will be to help the Iraqi gov­ern­ment to pre­pare suf­fi­cient forces to main­tain the mo­men­tum of the coun­ter­at­tack against ISIL, or Daesh, and re­gain con­trol of its ter­ri­tory,” Ab­bot and An­drews said.

The New Zealand De­fence Force last week said about 120 of its troops had left for a three-day train­ing camp in Australia prior to be­ing de­ployed to Iraq.

New Zealand De­fense Min­is­ter Gerry Brown­lee said Tues­day that the mission was on track to be op­er­a­tional to­ward the end of May but he wouldn’t be pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails of when troops would travel to Iraq for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

Brown­lee said a to­tal of 143 New Zealand mil­i­tary per­son­nel would be de­ployed, in­clud­ing some who would be based at the coali­tion head­quar­ters or other fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion.

Australia said it would also be de­ploy­ing an ad­di­tional 20 mil­i­tary per­son­nel to roles at the coali­tion head­quar­ters.

“This marks the next phase of Australia’s con­tri­bu­tion to the in­ter­na­tional coali­tion ef­fort to as­sist the Iraqi gov­ern­ment to dis­rupt, de­grade and ul­ti­mately de­feat the Daesh death cult,” said Ab­bot and An­drews.

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