Australia takes in 400 Iraqis who helped troops

Australia has resettled about 400 Iraqis and their relatives who were at risk for helping Australian troops and diplomats in their troubled homeland, officials said Friday. The Iraqis who accepted a government offer of humanitarian visas to settle permanently in Australia were flown in secretly by military aircraft over the past two months, Defense Ministry official Christian Taubenschlag said. "This project was not without risk, but deserting these people who assisted Australian troops and because of that were at risk of persecution was not an option for the Australian government," Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said in a statement. "We are thankful that the project appears to have succeeded," he added. The governing Labor Party, which opposed the Iraq war while in opposition, announced the visa offer to Iraqis after winning elections last November.