Australian PM Tony Abbott visits Iraq for talks on fighting ISIS: state TV

Iraqi soldiers launch a rocket during clashes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) near Dujail, some 70km north of Baghdad on Jan 2, 2015. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited Baghdad on Sunday, Jan 4, for talks on aiding
Iraqi soldiers launch a rocket during clashes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) near Dujail, some 70km north of Baghdad on Jan 2, 2015. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited Baghdad on Sunday, Jan 4, for talks on aiding Iraq in its fight against ISIS, state television reported. -- PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited Baghdad on Sunday for talks on aiding Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group, state television reported.

Australia is part of a US-led coalition carrying out air strikes gainst ISIS in Iraq and has deployed special forces troops to assist in training the army.

"Abbott arrived in Baghdad on an official visit to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries and... strengthening support and supplying the security forces to confront (ISIS) terrorist gangs," the television said, citing "government sources." It did not provide further details on the visit.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked Abott to step up military assistance to aid Baghdad’s fight against ISI, Abadi's office said.

Abadi “called on the Australian side to increase the arming and speed up the training and distribution of what is needed by the Iraqi forces to decide the battle and eliminate the (IS) organisation,” his office said. 

ISIS spearheaded an offensive that swept through much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland in June.

The group's rapid expansion and brutality in areas it controls in Iraq and neighbouring Syria eventually sparked an international campaign against it.

Dozens of Australians are fighting for Islamic militant groups overseas, raising fears that they could return home and carry out attacks.