Abbott rules out sending Aussie troops to Iraq

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out sending Australian troops to fight extremists in Iraq saying the current situation was vastly different to that of a decade ago.

Mr Abbott announced at the weekend the United States had requested that Australia help to transport stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions, as part of an international multi-nation effort to help Kurdish fighters battle Islamic State militants in northern Iraq.

He said on Monday Australia's involvement would continue to be a humanitarian one with air drops to continue this week.

"What President Obama has said all along, and what I say likewise, is that we are ruling out combat troops on the ground," he said.

"Now, it is a difficult situation. It is a developing situation.

"There has been no formal request and no decision taken to get further involved in actual military conflict."

Mr Abbott said Australia had a responsibility to ensure innocent people do not remain in the cross-hairs of Islamic State militants.

"There is an overall humanitarian objective here because we have all seen on our screens just how evil this ISIL movement is," he said.

"We have seen the beheadings, the crucifixions, the mass executions, the driving of innocent people from their homes and the destruction of ancient communities.

"It is important not to stand aside in the face of what is pure evil."

Mr Abbott said there was no reason to lift Australia's terror threat status from its current medium rating.

But he warned that could change given 60 Australian-born fighters have taken up arms in the region and could return home with murderous intent.

"It is ASIO's advice, and they are the relevant experts, that this is the appropriate threat level at this time," he said.

"But, obviously, we are constantly monitoring it and it is important to stay constantly vigilant."

- APN NEWSDESK


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