1 min read.Updated: 09 Sep 2015, 11:34 AM ISTJason Scott
Cabinet has approved joining the US-led bombing against terrorist targets in Syria, extending the airstrikes from Iraq, says Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Canberra: Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia will take an additional 12,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria and Iraq in response to the humanitarian crisis gripping the region, while extending airstrikes against Islamic State.
“This is a very significant increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake and it’s a generous response to the current emergency," Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday. Cabinet has approved joining the US-led bombing against terrorist targets in Syria, extending the airstrikes from Iraq, he said.
The Australian prime minister is the latest leader to respond to a global outpouring of sympathy for Syrian refugees after the death of a young boy whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to take 20,000 refugees over five years as Europe struggles with its worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Abbott won power two years ago pledging to “stop the boats" amid hundreds of deaths at sea as people smugglers ferried rickety vessels laden with asylum seekers to Australia’s shores. His government has defended the policy of turning around such boats from its waters and sending asylum seekers to offshore detention camps. Abbott said earlier this month the image of the dead child on the Turkish beach showed the need to stop “illegal migration."
Australia currently has a humanitarian intake of refugees of 13,750 a year. It will also boost aid by A$44 million ($31 million) to support 240,000 refugees displaced by fighting in the Middle East, Abbott said on Wednesday.
Australia, a key ally of the US, last year deployed 400 air force personnel and 200 special forces soldiers based in Iraq to the Middle East to join President Barack Obama’s coalition against Islamic State, with a further 300 soldiers leaving in April to help train Iraqi troops based at Taji, northwest of Bahgdad.
Obama had asked Australia to participate in bombing of Islamic State targets over the border into Syria, Abbott said last month. Australia had previously restricted bombing operations to Iraq due to the lack of legal clarity over Syrian action.
“There can be no stability and no end to the persecution and suffering in the Middle East until the Daesh death cult is degraded and ultimately destroyed," Abbott said Wednesday. “That’s what our armed forces are doing in Iraq and we need to do it in Syria too." Bloomberg
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