Australia to offer aid to Kurdistan Region
Australia has agreed to a U.S. request to help fly arms and munitions to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters battling Islamic State insurgents in Kudistan Region northern Iraq.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his country would transport military equipment, including arms and munitions, to Kurdish forces under a multination effort counting Canada, Italy, France and the U.K., as well as the U.S, Wall Street Journal reported.

"Australia's contribution will continue to be coordinated with the government of Iraq and regional countries," Abbott said in a statement on Sunday that what could also be a prelude to Australia sending warplanes to Iraq in coming weeks.

The U.S. last week announced a seven-nation aid package aimed at resupplying Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, with arms and equipment including crew-served weaponry, which could include machine guns or mortars.

Abbott last week used parliament to describe the preconditions to Australia joining a military intervention in Iraq that senior defense officials have told The Wall Street Journal will likely include 24 Super Hornet strike aircraft and possibly small numbers of special forces on the ground.

"Australia remains in close contact with the United States and other international partners and we will continue to work to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Iraq and address the security threat posed by ISIL," he said on Sunday. "The situation in Iraq represents a humanitarian catastrophe."

Australian heavy-lift transport aircraft based at the Al Minhad Air Base in Dubai and used to airdrop supplies to the thousands of people stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq this month would be used to move munitions supplied by other nations, possibly within days.

Australian intelligence agencies believe 60 Australians have joined the ranks of IS militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, with another 100 involved in recruiting potential fighters at home and leading to a planned tightening of counterterrorism laws.

News Code: 8224  |  Date: 2014/08/31  |  Time: 8 : 29

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