PM in Baghdad to discuss IS fight

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 04 Januari 2015 | 23.08

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has arrived in Baghdad. Source: News Corp Australia

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has arrived in Baghdad for talks on boosting Iraq's fight against the Islamic State jihadist group.

The visit is another significant investment by Australia into the war-ravaged region, after it became part of a US-led coalition of almost 60 countries carrying out air strikes against IS in Iraq.

"Abbott arrived in Baghdad on an official visit to discuss bilateral co-operation between the two countries and ... strengthening support and supplying the security forces to confront (IS) terrorist gangs," state-run Baghdad television reported, citing "government sources".

The visit, Mr Abbott's first to the country, comes after almost 200 Australian special force troops were deployed to Iraq late last year to train and advise local soldiers fighting IS. Australia's Super Hornet jets have also been involved in combat missions in Iraq since October last year.

It is the first visit to Baghdad by an Australian prime minister since Julia Gillard in 2009.

IS launched an offensive that swept through Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland in June.

The group's rapid expansion and brutality in areas it controls in Iraq and neighbouring Syria eventually sparked an international campaign against it.

The Government's commitment to fighting IS overseas comes as it also cracks down on its supporters on home soil.

The Abbott Government wants to ban travel to certain countries under new counterterrorism laws, with three Australian women known to have travelled to Syria to marry Islamic State fighters.

Dozens of Australians are fighting for Islamic militant groups overseas, raising fears that they could return home and carry out attacks.

The Iraq campaign was top of the bill when Mr Abbott met US President Barack Obama before the APEC submit in November.

Abbott did not rule out sending more Australian troops if asked by the US.

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