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Australia forces to take up humanitarian mission in Iraq

Posted on Aug 10 2014 | IANS

Sydney, Aug 9 : Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Saturday that Australian forces could be involved in a humanitarian mission to Iraq within days, to provide food and water to the thousands of people stranded in the north of the country.

Abbott said the US has asked Australia to consider participating in humanitarian air drops in the mountain area near the Sinjar city and that officials in the US and Australia are currently in talks, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"There is a looming humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in northern Iraq right now," Abbott told reporters here.

"Some 40,000 women and children mostly, are exposed on a mountain surrounded, as I understand it, by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces that are threatening to kill them."

Iraqis, Abbott said, were exposed in the mountain area, without food, water and shelter, noting that US President Barack Obama had called the situation a potential genocide.

Abbott said that Australia had two C-130 Hercules aircraft based in the UAE that could be used to help America's efforts.

He said it was important that Australia "join our international partners in doing what we can to render assistance".

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