Australia PM Tony Abbott Open to Sending Troops to Iraq

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | August 14, 2014 12:49 PM EST

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott indicated that the option of sending troops to Iraq was open. He said that it might be possible that Australia would send combat forces to the Middle-Eastern country along with military transport.

REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L) greets Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London August 12, 2014.

Abbott said that Australia might get actively involved in rescuing trapped refugees in northern mountains. Several non-Muslim people took refuge in the mountains after ISIS militants threatened to kill them unless they converted to Islam. The Aussie prime minister was earlier accused of contradicting with his ministers on the issue of sending troops to Iraq.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, appointed 130 additional personnel in northern Iraq. The U.S. personnel will help the Yazidi ethnic minority which has taken shelter on Mount Sinjar. Abbott, on the other hand, said that the Australian government was willing "to provide what assistance we reasonably can to protect people who are at risk." He said that the government would help people who were suffering "not just from the elements - from starvation, from dehydration, from exposure on Mount Sinjar - but also people who are at risk from ISIL forces."

Abbott also said that Australia's participation in military action in Iraq was not ruled out. "We certainly don't rule that out. We are talking to our partners, and our partners in this instance are certainly much wider than simply the US and UK, about what we can usefully do to help, but what I want to stress is this is a humanitarian cause," Abbott said.

Abbott was in London to meet British officials to discuss Iraq crisis. His opponents, however, were highly critical about the decision to send troops to Iraq. Earlier the conservative government in Australia sent 2,000 troops to Iraq in 2003 to show its support to military forces from the UK and the U.S. Abbott, who was a minister in that government, should be aware of the enormous protest took place in the country against the 2003 decision.

Defence Minister David Johnston, on the contrary, said that possibilities of military action would be bleak as Australia had only agreed to send a couple of unarmed C-130 Hercules transport planes to drop humanitarian aid to the refugee on the mountain.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool / )
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L) greets Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London August 12, 2014.
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