Australia to send 300 additional troops to Iraq

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Canberra, March 3: Australia will send an additional 300 troops to Iraq to train specialist Iraqi soldiers in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Tuesday.

As part of a joint training mission with New Zealand, who revealed their intentions to send 143 soldiers overseas last week, the 300 new arrivals will join a 200-strong Australian contingent already present in Iraq.

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Speaking to reporters in Canberra on Tuesday, Abbott said Australian forces had already enjoyed success in their fight against IS militants, but that more aid was needed to continue training Iraqi troops.

"We have slowed Daesh's (IS) advance, but Iraq's regular forces now require support to build their capacity to reclaim and to hold territory," he said.

The troops, who will be based in northern Baghdad, are expected to be overseas for two years as per the government's timeline of their involvement in Iraq.

Abbott also revealed that the decision to send more troops abroad had come with the support of Iraq Prime Minister Haider Al- Abadi, but that Iraq "do not want foreign combat troops on the ground".

Therefore, just like the 200 Australians already in Iraq, the new group will occupy strictly advisory roles.

The Prime Minister also suggested that security can only be guaranteed domestically by providing international support.

"What the Australian people want is security at home, but you can't have that security at home without doing your bit for security abroad," he said.

IANS

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