Australian IS fighters facing ‘certain death’: Turnbull
Sydney, Aug 6 (IANS) Australians fighting for the Islamic State militant group in the Middle East face “almost certain” death as coalition forces in the area begin to take control of key battlegrounds, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned on Saturday.
Turnbull said Australians who were thinking of joining the IS in Iraq and Syria should strongly reconsider as any IS “myth of invincibility” would soon be destroyed, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The IS has not yet been defeated in Syria and Iraq but it is being rolled back. We have not just halted IS’s momentum, it has been turned back,” Turnbull said.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has said that up to 110 Australians are fighting in the Middle East, while 40 have died since the conflict began in 2014.
Turnbull said information given to him indicates that the IS has lost “half of its territory” in Iraq since initiating fighting.
“In June, IS suffered its highest net territorial losses in over a year, including key ground near the Turkish border and the last city it controlled in Iraq’s Anbar and Fallujah.”
While Australian soldiers are not engaging in combat against the IS forces, Australian Defence Force personnel are training local soldiers and police near IS-held areas, while the nation’s air force in conjunction with the US is conducting missions over the Middle East.