The Kurdish regional government in Iraq has appealed to Australia to supply it with weapons and equipment to use against Islamic State militants.
The Kurds' representative in Australia, Haval Syan,
said he had written to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appealing for Australia to supply weapons and equipment to Peshmerga military forces and boost humanitarian aid to deal with refugees displaced by the fighting.
Mr Syan has launched a campaign to elicit donations from the Australian public.
"The Kurdish Peshmerga are doing the fighting against the Islamic State militants on the ground on behalf of the international community and therefore the international community has a moral duty to support the Peshmerga," he said.
"We need the support of Australia with weapons and equipment so we can defeat terrorism."
Mr Syan said the most pressing need was for additional humanitarian aid given there were now 1.2 million displaced people.
"The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi army must come together to defeat the Islamic State militants and the international community needs to do what it can to support this," he said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is considering what further military and humanitarian assistance Australia can provide to Iraq including FA-18 Super Hornet jet fighters to help the US bomb Islamic State positions in an effort to halt their advance.
CONSULTATIONS CONTINUE WITH ALLIES
The US has made no request for fighters so far, and a land base closer to Iraq – perhaps in neighbouring Turkey – will be needed if the bombing campaign is to be stepped up.
Mr Abbott told Parliament that consultations were continuing with the US, France, Canada and Britain.
The powerful National Security Committee of Cabinet on Monday considered options for Australian military support, which could involve supporting airstrikes with RAAF Airbus KC-30A refuelling aircraft and continuing humanitarian relief drops through the use of transport aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the C-17.
The joint Pine Gap satellite tracking station, which can track missile launches and eavesdrop on communications, is supporting operations against IS militants.
Mr Abbott this month considered sending special forces to Iraq to conduct an airlift of thousands of minority Yazidis trapped by the militants on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq after the West feared a genocide.
But the plan was deemed unnecessary by the Pentagon after it determined the Peshmerga and Syrian Kurdish militia had been far more successful at pushing IS fighters back and enabling refugees to escape.
Though the US has been reluctant to redeploy troops to Iraq, it's believed another threatened genocide could see both the US and Australia as well as other allies under pressure to deploy troops. "This government won't commit forces without the fullest possible consideration, without the consideration of cabinet, without consultation with the opposition," Mr Abbott told Parliament on Tuesday.
Mr Abbott allocated an extra $64 million to deal with the problem of returning jihadists posing a terror threat at home.
Up to 160 Australians are believed to be fighting in Syria and Iraq with Islamic State militants.
The Australian Financial Review
BY JOHN KERIN