News / Asia

Australia Prepares to Deliver Weapons to Outgunned Kurds

FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Phil Mercer

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has given tacit backing to Australia’s plan to airlift weapons to Kurdish forces trying to fend off the Islamic State in northern Iraq. Canberra intends to deliver arms and munitions within days.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia did not want to be involved in another Middle Eastern war, but would do what it could to avert potential genocide. To try to halt the advance of Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, Australian military aircraft will fly weapons and ammunition to outgunned Kurdish forces. The mission is being planned with the cooperation of the Iraqi government.

Britain, Canada, France and Italy will also join the U.S.-led mission. Abbott has said that Australian F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets were ready to support U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants if requested by the U.S. and Iraqi governments.

Abbott has told the Australian parliament that the world must stand up to Sunni militants spreading terror in Syria and northern Iraq.

“I refuse to call this hideous movement Islamic State because it's not a state, it's a death cult. So in good conscience Madam Speaker, Australia cannot leave the Iraqi people to face this horror, this pure evil, alone,” said Abbott.

Abbott’s stance on Iraq is supported by the main opposition Labor party, but Greens party leader Christine Milne has demanded a full parliamentary debate.

“The Prime Minister must tell Australians on what basis are we running after the United States into another imbroglio into Iraq,” said Milne.

Speaking in New Zealand Tuesday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. Security Council should discuss ways for the international community to help resolve the crisis in Iraq.

He said it was “important to contain the further spread of political instability and security instability”.

Ban also thanked nations, including Australia, that were taking decisive action to address the threat posed by Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq.

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