MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) - Australia is not planning to send ground troops to Iraq to fight Islamic State insurgency, although its Air Force has taken part in air raids against IS targets, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in Baghdad.
Speaking at a Saturday press conference, Bishop said that the government did not "envisage sending ground forces" to Iraq, adding "we have not been asked to."
Bishop emphasized that her country would only consider a ground operation "at the invitation of and with the consent of the Iraqi government," the Sydney Morning Herald cited her as saying after the meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.
Jaafari confirmed that Baghdad did not favor involvement of foreign troops in a ground operation on the Iraqi soil, and described it as a "red line."
Over the past few months, the IS Sunni extremist group has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed an Islamic caliphate on the areas it controls. Its rapid advance triggered a response from Washington, which launched airstrikes against the insurgents fighting in northern Iraq back in August.
Australian fighter jets began hitting targets inside Iraq earlier in October. It was reported that Australia had dispatched six Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets to Iraq. The government was also planning to send a group of 200 military advisers to assist in the US-led military operation.