PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has announced Australian military forces, including 600 troops, will be sent to the Persian Gulf to assist in attacks on the Islamic State as part of an international Coalition.
Speaking at a press conference in Darwin on Sunday, Mr Abbott said Australia had received a specific request from the United States to contribute forces to possible military action against the Islamic State’s forces in Iraq and Syria.
“The government has decided to prepare and to deploy to the United Arab Emirates a military force,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Darwin.
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“I stress this is essentially a humanitarian operation to protect millions of people in Iraq from the murderous IS movement.”
Mr Abbott said the deployment did not mean Australia was at war, emphasising that there was no intention for Australian forces to engage in independent combat operations.
“There are obviously further decisions to be taken before Australian forces will be committed to combat operations in Iraq,” he said.
“Nevertheless Australia is prepared to engage in international operations to disrupt and degrade ISIL because of the threat that this murderous death cult poses not just to the people of Iraq, not just to the people of the Middle East, but to the whole world including to Australia.”
The deployment will include 400 air personnel and around 200 military personnel, up to eight Super Hornet aircraft, an early warning and control aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft and a contingent of Special Forces troops.
The announcement came after a new video released on Sunday by the Islamic State claimed to show the barbaric beheading of British aid worker David Haines.
“The evil and exaltation in evil that was yet again on display today, should make all of us more resolved than ever to do whatever we reasonably can to disrupt, degrade and if possible destroy this movement,” Mr Abbott said.
“It is a death cult.”