AUSTRALIA has confirmed for the first time that the United States has requested more military assistance to fight Islamic State.
Defence Minister Marise Payne confirmed US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had written to Australia and 39 other nations in relation to their contributions to the fight against Daesh.
There was no request from the United States that Australia consider ground troops in the region.
Australia is likely to reject the requests, which follows calls from former prime minister Tony Abbott for western troops on the ground, sparking the prospect that the Turnbull Government’s decision could inflame internal tensions.
Australia is already the second largest contributor to the Coalition campaign, with government sources suggesting the US request was aimed more squarely at other nations.
“We will respond to the US in due course but if you bear in mind what we are already doing in our air operations and our Building Partner Capacity work particularly in Taji with New Zealand, these are significant undertakings and Australia is already making a very significant commitment,” she said.
“The Australian Government continues to keep our contribution under ongoing review in consultation with our coalition partners,” she said.
Australia’s has deployed six F/A-18 Hornets, a E7-A Wedgetail airborne warning aircraft and a KC-30A tanker aircraft to the fight against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Around 300 Australian troops are training soldiers in Iraq and Australian special forces personnel have been advising the Iraq Counter-Terrorism Service.
Australia was an early contributor to air strikes in Syria, with the UK only recently commencing air strikes against targets in Syria.