Islamic State militant
Islamic State militant

Fight against ISIS to cost Australia $500m per year

THE ABBOTT government will spend at least half a billion dollars for each year that Australia is engaged in military action against Islamic State militants in Iraq, and potentially Syria, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated.

Mr Abbott on Tuesday spoke to Fairfax Radio, revealing he had received early costings of what the intervention, which he has described as a "mission, not a war", will cost Australian taxpayers.

While the final costings have not yet been worked out, and could expand over time, Mr Abbott said he had early estimates Australia's role Iraq would cost at least a $250 million for every six months over there.

His comments came as the United States launched air strikes on Tuesday against IS militants in close proximity to Baghdad, and after some 30 nations in Paris pledged to do "whatever is necessary" to defeat the IS.

President Barack Obama also confirmed the US was likely to take on a military role inside Syria, as IS militants are active on both sides of the porous border between the two nations.

While Mr Abbott said it was "not Australia's intention at this time" to get involved in Syria as well as Iraq, he could not rule it out, and was waiting on legal advice as to any such involvement.

He also confirmed on Fairfax and ABC Radio that Australian soldiers had already left for the proposed operating base in the United Arab Emirates, but they would not be engaged in "combat operations".

Mr Abbott said the Australian forces initially would be used as "military advisers" to opposition Peshmerga forces or Iraqi government forces, despite reports on Tuesday that Peshmerga forces may be working with listed terrorist group the PKK.

Despite the reports on potential PKK involvement with the Peshmerga, Mr Abbott said he had "very strong guarantees" that arms Australia is expected to provide to Peshmerga would not be used by other groups.