Australia Deploys Special Forces, Joins Air Strikes in Iraq
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Australia's cabinet Friday authorised the deployment of special forces and military air strikes to tackle the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organisation in Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
"Today, cabinet has authorised Australian air strikes in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and in support of the Iraqi government," Abbott said.
"Also, subject to final legal documentation, cabinet has authorised the deployment of Australian special forces into Iraq to advise and assist Iraqi forces."
About 200 troops, including special forces soldiers, arrived in mid-September in the United Arab Emirates, a staging post for military operations into the region, as part of a 600-strong deployment as Australia geared up to join the US-led campaign, AFP reported.
They are backed by Australian air force aircraft, including F/A-18F Super Hornet jets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, and a KC-30A multi-role tanker and transport aircraft.
The special forces were "not envisaged" to become directly involved in combat missions but would be "helping Iraqi forces with the planning and coordination of operations", Abbott stressed.
He added that they would operate on a "much smaller scale" than their allied counterparts.
Some 1,600 US soldiers have been deployed to Iraq to support Iraqi forces with equipment, training and information, while Canada said last month it had sent dozens of special forces soldiers to the country to advise local personnel.