Three key U.S. allies in the Asian-Pacific region offered support Thursday for President Barack Obama‘s plan to launch airstrikes in Syria and expand bombing in Iraq, in an attempt to stop Islamic militants, while China sidestepped questions of whether it would participate in a U.S.-led coalition.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country is already contributing to humanitarian and munitions transport flights in Iraq, said just ahead of Mr. Obama’s prime-time national address that the Islamic State posed a threat not only internationally, but at home, with at least 60 Australians having already joined insurgent ranks in the Middle East.
Australia is expected to deploy up to 24 Super Hornet warplanes to join U.S.-led airstrikes on insurgent positions, as well as military advisers on the ground for the Iraqi military, which could include troops drawn from the country’s elite special forces. The Perth-based West Australian newspaper, whose state is home to the country’s Special Air Service, reported Thursday that the U.S. was seeking SAS commandos for Iraq.
“This is at least as much a domestic security issue for us as it is an international security issue,” Mr. Abbott told reporters in the southern state of Tasmania. “This is not a conflict which is remote to us.”
Mr. Obama underscored that point in his speech, telling Americans that the global threat posed by the Islamic State required what could be a long-term military response.