News National Australia to offer Iraq help

Australia to offer Iraq help

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she hasn’t envisaged Australia sending troops to Iraq to quell growing violence in the country.

Instead, she says the government is ready to help deal with the humanitarian crisis.

Insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have taken a swathe of mostly Sunni Arab territory in northern Iraq since launching an offensive last week.

US President Barack Obama has said Washington was considering options over Iraq but would not be sending troops – a position backed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

On Saturday US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier the USS George HW Bush, to sail into the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama considers possible military options for Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in the Houston on Saturday, Mr Abbott said he would wait to see how the US responds to the situation in Iraq before developing an Australian response.

“The important thing at the moment is to let the Americans work their way forward,” he said.

Ms Bishop, who described events in Iraq as “deeply disturbing”, said the US would take the lead when it came to any military action.

“I didn’t envisage a circumstance where we would be sending in troops,” she told the Ten Network.

“But we certainly stand ready to support the humanitarian crisis should a request be made.”

Greens leader Christine Milne said following the US into Iraq “is not going to fix it”.

“We do not want to follow the United States blindly as John Howard did (in 2003,” Senator Milne told ABC Television.

“Clearly it didn’t work last time in Iraq and it won’t work this time,” Senator Milne told ABC Television.