Sydney | Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today said there was no global support for a US-led ground force to destroy the Islamic State group, while warning resolve to defeat jihadists has never been stronger.
Calls have been mounting in Canberra for boots on the ground in Syria to combat the threat from IS and other militant groups. But after attending a series of recent global summits, Turnbull said in a national security address to parliament that there was no appetite for such a move. I have to report to the House that the consensus of the leaders I met at the G20, at APEC and at the East Asia Summit is that there is no support currently for a large US-led Western army to attempt to conquer and hold ISIL-controlled areas, he said, referring to another term for IS.
His comments echoed a similar stance to US President Barack Obama who told the G20 summit in Turkey that Islamic State leaders will have no safe haven anywhere, vowing a ruthless pursuit of the group but without putting US troops on the ground. Australia has for months been active in Iraq, and recently started carrying out air strikes in Syria.
Turnbull said that mindful that Australia has a range of security priorities across the globe and in our own region, there are currently no plans for a significant change in the level or the nature of Australia’s military commitment in Iraq and Syria. Current advice to the government is that the unilateral deployment of Australian combat troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria is not feasible or practical, he added.
Turnbull offered his sympathies to the 130 people who died in the Paris attacks this month but made clear we must not let grief or anger cloud our judgment. Our response must be as clear eyed and strategic as it is determined. This is not a time for gestures or machismo. Calm, clinical, professional, effective. That’s how we defeat this menace.
Authorities raised Australia’s terror threat alert to high just over a year ago with the government introducing new security laws and conducting several counter-terrorism raids since. The government has said six attacks have been foiled on home soil over the past year, although several have not, including a police employee shot dead in Sydney last month by a 15-year-old reportedly shouting religious slogans.
Turnbull said Australia would this week transition to a new, clearer five-tier terror alert system with the new threat levels to be: certain, expected, probable, possible and not expected. The system previously used extreme, high, medium and low. He added that he had ordered all law enforcement agencies to test their responses to a mass casualty attack in the wake of the Paris atrocity.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.