News National No Australian ground troops for ISIL fight

No Australian ground troops for ISIL fight

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia will not be sending ground troops to fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Ms Bishop has met with Iraqi officials to discuss Australia’s role in the US-led coalition against IS militants.

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Speaking at a news conference alongside her Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Baghdad, she said Australia is working with Iraq to see how best to provide further assistance in the region.

“We’ve not been asked and we’ve not offered to [send troops to Iraq]. So I do not envisage that that being part of our arrangements with Iraq,” she said.

“We will only provide assistance at the invitation of and with the consent of the Iraqi government.”

Mr Jafaari reaffirmed Ms Bishop’s words and said Iraq considered sending in ground forces as “a red line”.

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia’s special forces had not yet been able to enter Iraq because the Baghdad government had not provided the necessary legal guarantees.

Mr Abbott wants the 200 Australian special operations troops to be offered indemnity from prosecution under Iraqi law, such as that offered to US soldiers.