Australian PM denies reports he planned deployment of 3,500 troops to fight ISIS in Iraq

Prime Minister Abbot dismissed the reports as "fanciful" but reaffirmed commitment to work with allies to act against threats.

February 21, 2015 05:33
1 minute read.
Tony Abbott

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margie place flowers at the makeshift memorial for the hostage victims of the Sydney cafe siege. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, rebuked reports that he considered unilaterally deploying a contingent of his country's troops against the Islamic State group in Iraq, ABC reported Saturday.

Initial reports from The Australian newspaper indicated that Abbot had mulled a go-it-alone option which would have seen some 3,500 Aussie soldiers stationed in Iraq with the explicit objective of combating fighters from Islamic State who have laid waste to much of the countries north and still hold key cities.

According to the report , Abbot met with military planners in order to draw up a potential strategy but was dissuaded by key members of the Australian armed forces who asserted that any such action without the direct support of the US or NATO would be "disastrous".

When asked about any such plans Abbot dismissed them as "fanciful", telling the press that "Australia does not act unilaterally in the Middle East."

"We work with our partners and allies to meet threats to our vital national interests and to the vital national interests of our friends and partners. That's what we do."

"I rang the [Chief of the Defense Force] as you would expect, because if any such discussions had ever taken place, surely they would have taken place with the CDF and he is as mystified by this as I am," Abbot explained, seemingly puzzled by the reports.

An earlier statement by the spokesperson for the Prime Minister did however indicate a willingness to commit to some sort of course of action.

"The Prime Minister has consistently said that the Australian Government will continue to talk to the government of Iraq and to our coalition partners about what Australia can usefully do to make the world a safer place and to make Australia a safer country."

Australia has been marginally affected by developments in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

In December of 2014, Man Haron Monis, an Iranian born Australian who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, charged into a cafe, taking eighteen people hostage in a 16 hour long standoff with police. The standoff ended with a raid by police that left Monis and two hostages dead.

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