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Australia hints at greater role in Iraq

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

Prime Minister Tony today hinted that his government is considering expanding Australia's role in Iraq to deal with the Islamic State militant group which he said has global ambitions.

Opening a summit on countering violent extremism in Sydney, said the Islamic State terror group could not be negotiated with, only fought.

"We are talking with our friends and partners about how the air strikes might be more effective and how the Iraqi forces might be better helped," he said, adding "this is with global ambitions".

He said IS holds sway over an area as large as in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, while its affiliates control parts of Libya and

The group is also active on the Horn of and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and it has ambitions to establish a far province in Southeast Asia, he said.

"The tentacles of the death cult have extended even here as we discovered with the Martin Place siege last December," said.

He said in the past year IS and its imitators carried out attacks in Sydney and in Melbourne, as well as in France, Belgium, Canada, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Jordan, Denmark, Kenya and the United States.

"You can't negotiate with an entity like this, you can only fight it," he said.

"We've sent a strong military force to the Middle East to hit Daesh from the air and to train and assist the Iraqi army to retake their own country," he said.

is the second-largest single contributor to the fight against IS in Iraq, providing 300 trainers based in Taji, an air task group and special forces on a counter-advise-and-assist mission in western Anbar.

"At home, we are trying to ensure that Australians don't leave this country to join the 15,000 foreign fighters already in Syria and Iraq. Counter-terrorist units from the Australian Border Force are now operational at all our international airports," Abbott said.

"We are trying to ensure that people who have been brutalised and militarised by fighting with the terrorist army cannot be at large on our streets," he said.

First Published: Thu, June 11 2015. 14:28 IST