BAGHDAD – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott made an unannounced visit Sunday to Baghdad, meeting with top officials to discuss ways his country can aid Iraqi forces in their fight against the Islamic State group.
Abbott and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi discussed military cooperation between the two countries, including the training and equipping of Iraqi soldiers, state television reported. The Iraqi army collapsed last summer in the face of a blitz by extremists from the Islamic State group, which now holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate.
During a joint news conference, Abbott said that his country is determined to provide all kinds of support to Iraq in its war against terrorism. He vowed to enhance cooperation between the two countries.
Australian fighter jets are bombing Islamic State group targets in northern Iraq as part of a U.S.-led coalition and 200 Australian special forces troops soon will enter Iraq to advise and assist local security forces.
Meanwhile Sunday, police said mortar shells slammed into several houses in the Shiite village of Sabaa al-Bour, about 20 miles north of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding seven.
Elsewhere, police said a bomb blast on a commercial street killed two people and wounded six in western Baghdad.
Sunday night, two bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 10, police said. A sticky bomb attached to a mini-bus also exploded, killing two passengers and wounding three, police said.
Medical officials confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.