CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister said on Wednesday that Australian special forces sent to Iraq haven't been able to enter the country yet because the Iraqi government has not provided the necessary legal guarantees.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wanted the same indemnity from prosecution under Iraqi law for 200 Australian special operations troops as American troops already had in Iraq.
Abbott said that he was confident that the situation would be resolved in the next few days.
The soldiers are being sent to advise and assist Iraqi security forces. They were sent a month ago to the United Arab Emirates at the request of the United States.
At the same time, Australia also sent six F/A-18F Super Hornet jet fighters. The fighter jets were now flying almost daily combat missions against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq, Abbott said.
Iraqi officials have repeatedly said that while the warplanes were welcome, foreign troops on the ground in their country were not.
Abbott said that objection to foreign troops was not an obstacle to the Australian military playing an advising and assisting role for Iraqi security forces.
Australia sent 2,000 troops to support U.S. and British forces in the 2003 Iraq invasion. But Australia has ruled out a ground combat role in the current conflict.