SYDNEY: Australia said Tuesday 330 troops were heading to Iraq for two years to train local soldiers fighting jihadists including the Islamic State group, joining an aerial and special forces contingent in the region.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the troops would be deployed from Wednesday and operate from the massive Taji base complex north of Baghdad alongside 100 soldiers from New Zealand.
They were mostly drawn from the army’s 7th Brigade based in Brisbane, he added.
“We won’t have a combat role. It’s a training mission not a combat mission,” Abbott told reporters of the deployment, which was first flagged in early March following a request by the United States and Iraq governments.
“Our building partner capacity mission is all about trying to ensure that the legitimate government of Iraq has a trained and disciplined and capable force that understands the rules of armed conflict at its disposal to retake the territory which is currently under the control of the death cult (Islamic State).
“What we’ll be doing (in Taji) is comparable to what a number of other countries are doing,” Abbott added, pointing to Germany’s Erbil mission in Kurdish areas and a Spanish mission at Besmaya south of Baghdad.