Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that it will join its global partners including the US, UK, France and Italy to help forces resisting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq.
“Following the successful international humanitarian relief effort air-dropping supplies to the thousands of people stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will now conduct further humanitarian missions,” Abbott said on Sunday in an official statement.
“The United States Government has requested that Australia help to transport stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions, as part of a multi-nation effort,” he said, adding RAAF’s C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft will join aircraft from other nations to conduct this important task.
The other countries include Canada, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Australia’s contribution will continue to be coordinated with the government of Iraq and regional countries,” he said.
Terming the situation in Iraq a “humanitarian catastrophe,” the Prime Minister said Australia remains in close contact with the US and other international partners and will continue to work to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Iraq and address the security threat posed by ISIL.
“We have seen the beheadings, the crucifixions, the mass executions, the driving of innocent people from their homes, the destruction of ancient communities. “It is important not to stand aside in the face of what is pure evil,” he said.
Asked about the level of involvement, Abbott said, “there are two elements to our involvement: there is the humanitarian air drops – and we saw one to Amerli early yesterday, we saw one to Mount Sinjar a week or so back – and then later in the week, we will be part of a military airlift involving a number of other countries to the Kurdish parts of Iraq.”
Abbott stressed that it is being done at the request of the US, with the support of the Iraqi Government, in conjunction with other countries.
“I certainly don’t rule out further military involvement but I do rule out combat troops on the ground,” Abbott said.