Australia to send aircraft to Iraq, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Prime minister Tony Abbott has confirmed Australia will deliver weapons to fighters battling IS militants at the request of the Obama Government, News reported.
Confirming the airlift of military equipment to Iraq in Canberra today, Mr Abbott said the weapons drop was about doing "what is right for our country and what is best for our world".
The weapons will be supplied to help the anti-Islamic Kurdish Peshmerga troops who are fighting on the front line against the IS incursions in northern Iraq.
Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster aircraft will be involved in the airlifts that also include Canada, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.
The first mission to deliver equipment to Erbil will be undertaken "in coming days", Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra the situation "remains severe and will reman severe as long as the ISIS movement maintains control over parts of northern Iraq and Syria."
"We've seen beheadings and mass executions - it's severe," he said.
Mr Abbott said there was a certain type of terrorist "who hate us not because of what we do, but because of what we are".
"They hate us, just as much as the people they are attacking.
"Just because we would prefer to stand aside from these conflicts doesn't mean they will stand aside for us."
At least 60 Australians were known to have joined the fighting in Iraq, Mr Abbott said.
He described the Australians involved in ISIS as "radicalised, brutalised and accustomed to kill in the name of God".
"There's no reason to think the same people won't do likewise if they get the chance to do it elsewhere - like Australia," he said.
Mr Abbott said he wanted to to stress that there was no specific request from the US or the Iraqi Government "for Australia to participate in airstrikes in Iraq".
He said there are requests for humanitarian assistance, for military airlifts but no specific request for military engagement
"There is no role envisaged for combat troops on the ground," he said.
"Any military activity by Australia over and above the airdrops and military airlift will be along with allies and it would be at the request of the government of Iraq. But no specific request has been made and no specific decision has been made.
"None of us want to get involved in another Middle Eastern war, but it is important to do what reasonably can be done to avert potential genocide."
Australia's involvement in the airlift received bipartisan support from Labor.
"This is happening because of one reason - there are vulnerable people who need help and they need it now," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.