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1. Australia to send 300 troops to Iraq to train in fight against Islamic State.
By Louise Yaxley, ABC.
Australia is poised to expand its military role in Iraq, with Federal Cabinet approving a plan to send another 300 soldiers to help train forces fighting Islamic State militants.
Some 200 Australian special forces are already in Iraq helping train Iraqi government forces.
Now Federal Cabinet has agreed to send up to 300 more troops as part of a joint training mission with New Zealand.
The plan was put to the Coalition party room this morning.
The move was flagged last week by New Zealand prime minister John Key, who told his country’s parliament that more than 140 New Zealand troops would be sent to Iraq as part of a new deployment alongside Australian personnel.
“This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia, although it won’t be badged an Anzac force,” he said.
The ABC understands Mr Key phoned Prime Minister Tony Abbott ahead of his announcement, and the two leaders discussed the issue when Mr Abbott visited Auckland at the weekend.
The FederalOpposition is supporting the deployment providing four conditions are met.
It says the troops must be there at the request of Iraq’s government; the mission must be confined to Iraq; Australian ground combat units must not be deployed; and if the Iraqi security forces engage in unacceptable conduct, or the Iraqi government adopts unacceptable policies, then Australia should withdraw its support.
In Iraq, government forces have launched an offensive against Islamic State north of Baghdad, aiming to drive the militants out of the strategically important town of Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
The offensive is the biggest military operation in the province since the Sunni Islamist radicals seized large areas of northern Iraq last June and advanced towards the capital.
Warning sounded over possible battle for Mosul
The joint Australian-New Zealand deployment would aim at training Iraqi troops to take back cities held by Islamic State, including Mosul.