Australian soldiers will join Iraqi security forces and the international coalition in an operation to recapture Mosul city from the the Islamic State (IS) terror group, Defence Minister Marise Payne said Tuesday.
“We are continuing our work providing support to the Iraqi security forces throughout the Mosul offensive,” Payne said.
“I’m not going to give those sorts of specific details in operational terms for security reasons,” she said in response to a question about the proximity of Australian troops to the current military action in Mosul.
Australia contributes to the international coalition led by the US in the fight against the IS with six F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft, a KC-30A aerial refuelling tanker aircraft and an E-7A Wedgetail twin-engine early warning and control aircraft. It has also deployed 780 soldiers, including 80 special forces troops.
Along with New Zealand, Australia provides training for Iraqi soldiers, while its special operations group provides advice and assistance to the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services. The Prime Minister and commander of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Haider al-Abadi, has vowed to oust the IS from Iraq this year, as the group’s last stronghold is Mosul, the second largest city in the country that has been under its control since June 2014.
The terrorist group was previously expelled from the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in central Iraq.