Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. AAP Image - Nikki Short

Cabinet to decide combat role against IS in 'coming days'

APN NEWSDESKA DECISION on a ground combat role for Australia's troops in Iraq is imminent, as Tony Abbott suggests there are moral arguments for a wider role against Islamic State militants in Syria.

After addressing the United Nations' general assembly in New York on Thursday, the Prime Minister said Friday that Cabinet would consider Australia's role "in coming days".

Mr Abbott on Friday told ABC Radio that troops including Special Forces, which he said would act as "military advisors", were sent "in readiness" for deployment.

"It's clear that more and more countries are committing to some form of military action to support the Iraqi Government to disrupt and degrade the ISIL movement," he said.

While in New York, Mr Abbott also met with United States President Barack Obama, and told the UN Australia was "strong enough to be useful but pragmatic enough to know our limits".

During the UN talks, President Obama also indicated the US was an also considering further escalating it air strikes on IS militants in Syria.

While Mr Abbott joined world leaders for the general assembly, he missed a key climate change meeting, and gave scant attention to that issue in his speech to the general assembly.

And while Mr Abbott said he couldn't rule out, or commit to, Australian engagement on the Syrian side of the Iraqi border, he told ABC it was a "border that IS doesn't recognise".

He said "morally" there was little difference in fighting IS on either side of the border, "legally, there's a world of difference", considering the Australian Government does not recognise the Assad regime.

"What we have in mind is combat operations in Iraq, not elsewhere. Obviously, what other countries do, what other governments do, is a matter for them," Mr Abbott said.

"We are determined to do what we reasonably and prudently and proportionately can at home and abroad to combat this terror menace."

- APN NEWSDESK



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