Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paid Australian troops in Iraq an unannounced visit on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Mr Turnbull flew into Camp Taji north of Baghdad. LT Joshua Armstrong, 26 years from Brisbane and LCPL Lincoln Pade, 22 years from Darwin grabbed a selfie with PM Turnbull during the visit to Taji, Iraq.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paid Australian troops in Iraq an unannounced visit on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Mr Turnbull flew into Camp Taji north of Baghdad. LT Joshua Armstrong, 26 years from Brisbane and LCPL Lincoln Pade, 22 years from Darwin grabbed a selfie with PM Turnbull during the visit to Taji, Iraq. AAP Image - News Corp Pool, Gary Ramage

Malcolm Turnbull recommits troops to IS fight in Iraq visit

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has recommitted Australia to the fight against Islamic State during a surprise visit to troops in Iraq.

Speaking to Australian troops at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, Mr Turnbull thanked them for their service and said they were winning the fight against Daesh, an alternative name for Islamic State.

"(Iraqi) Prime Minister (Haider al-Abadi) certainly gave us the impression of real, substantial confidence that they're turning the corner in the battle against Daesh," he said.

"It's obviously vitally important that a city like Ramadi, and others to follow, are seen to be taken by Iraqi forces. They've got to win back their country, but they need our help and more importantly they needed your help and you've provided it with great skill.

"What you are doing is having a global impact. It is making the world safe. It is making our homes in Australia and New Zealand safer."

There are about 300 Australian troops training Iraqi army personnel at Camp Taji, six fighter jets and about 80 Australian special forces directing Iraqi combat operations. Several New Zealand troops are also based at the camp.

Mr Turnbull's visit came only days after the government declined a US request to increase military commitment against Daesh.

Despite this, Mr Turnbull would not rule out future commitments to fight Daesh but said there was a time limit on staying in Iraq.

"What further commitments we were to make would depend on the circumstances. But we do not intend to be in Iraq forever," he said.

After Mr Turnbull met with Mr al-Abadi, he said defeating IS was an ideological as well military fight.

"The victory must be one that endures," he said. "For it to endure there must be genuine reconciliation between the various parties in Iraq."

Prime Ministers remarks following discussions with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi 

Thank you very much Prime Minister. I am very honoured to be here with the Chief of our Defence Forces and my party, to be here in Iraq with its very rich history.

I was remarking on our way here Prime Minister, that here between the two great rivers was the cradle of civilisation. Here of course was the beginnings of Government. Government needed of course to manage irrigation.

I want to say that we admire the efforts you are taking Prime Minister to improve governance, to establish a stronger civil order here in Iraq. We are full of admiration for your efforts in retaking Ramadi and we are very pleased that Australia has been able to assist you in that effort.

We are strongly committed to helping Iraq in its fight against Daesh. Daesh is a threat to all of us and we need to continue to work together to defeat these terrorists. They are under increasing military pressure because of your efforts, the efforts of the Iraqi Amy, and the Iraqi people, the counter-terrorism service supported by Coalition forces, including our own.

Your forces have displayed great determination in this fight and as we have discussed it has been a very costly one. I want to pay our tribute to the many Iraqis who have been killed or wounded in this struggle, particularly as you said in your remarks earlier, by attacks from improvised explosive devices, which are very challenging, and which we are bending all our efforts to combat.

Now our forces here, as you have observed, are helping to train your brigades and we look forward to continuing to do that, and to support the efforts of the counter-terrorism services.

Our Air Force is working with the Coalition and with your Air Force to degrade and destroy Daesh's infrastructure, but this war against Daesh will be more, it requires for victory, more than military means.

It is also in many respects a war of ideas. I have discussed with you Prime Minister your efforts to promote national unity and reconciliation, and that is absolutely critical to countering this extremism now and for the longer term.

You fill us with confidence that victory against Daesh in Iraq is within sight, within reach. You exude confidence Prime Minister and that is very encouraging. But the victory must be one that endures. For it to endure there must be genuine reconciliation between the various parties in Iraq.

There also needs, as you said Prime Minister, there needs to be a solution, an outcome, a reconciliation in Syria. Borders are of course just lines on the map. Unless there is an end to the war in Syria, it will be challenging to maintain the peace in Iraq as we discussed.

Now we've also discussed the desperate humanitarian situation here with nearly four million of your people displaced by this conflict. You've explained to me the challenge of restoring security and basic services so that your people can return to their homes, as well as the daunting task of rebuilding devastated towns and cities.

We're very aware of the scale of the task facing Iraq and as you know we have provided humanitarian relief and support, financially and otherwise, to you in that effort as well as our military support.
We will continue to work together. We have a common cause, a common cause for peace, a common cause for humanity.

Prime Minister, thank you very much for your hospitality, thank you very much for the very keen insight that you've offered us on the challenges in your country and in the region; it has been a really stimulating discussion.

I hope that when your heavy duties here allow you some time to come to Australia that you will do so, and we look forward to welcoming you to our country and continuing our very fruitful discussions.
Thank you very much. 



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