The group has been labelled as 'responsible for major war crimes and unnecessary civilian casualties' by a former Australia intelligence officer, reported The Sun Herald.

Mr Abbott made a rare criticism of US foreign policy in Iraq, saying the aftermath of the invasion had left the country in 'chaos and confusion'

    Tony Abbott has confirmed the ADF are training elite Iraqi security forces
    The Counter-Terrorism Service of Iraq has been accused of war crimes
    The service has posted pictures of executed militants to social media
    They have admitted to executing prisoners on the spot
    US General said the group was 'the most important in the anti-terror fight'
    ADF said there has been no reported instances of human rights violations
    Prime Minister Abbott said the US invasion of Iraq left country in chaos
    He won't rule out sending more Australian troops to Iraq

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed that Australian Special Forces have begun providing training and assistance for an Iraqi security force which a former intelligence officer claims has committed war crimes.

The Australian Special Operations Task Group has partnered with the Counter-Terrorism Service of Iraq in order to aid the fight against Islamic State (IS), a cohort which has openly posted photos of executed militants on social media.

The group has been labelled as 'responsible for major war crimes and unnecessary civilian casualties' by a former Australia intelligence officer, reported The Sun Herald.

The service operates independently from the Iraqi state defense force, working directly under Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and created by the United States military to track al-Qaeda in Iraq within the country.

However, US General David Patraeus told former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2024 that the forces were 'the most important forces in the counter-terrorism fight'.

A senior general in Baghdad also justified execution of prisoners on the spot as 'a field reaction' to the crimes committed by IS, reported The Sun Herald

Mr Abbott made the rare criticism of Australia's strongest ally during a surprise visit to Baghdad, and has not ruled out sending more troops to the war-torn nation.

'Iraq is a country which has suffered a very great deal. First, decades of tyranny under Saddam Hussein. Then, the chaos and confusion that followed the American-led invasion. 

'Most recently, the tumult, the dark age, which has descended upon Northern Iraq as a result of the Daesh death cult, but Australia will do what we can to help.' 

On the third leg of an unannounced visit to the troubled region, Mr Abbott held talks with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in Dubai and visited an airbase.

'I certainly don't rule out doing what we reasonably can to make the world a safer place,' he said after the meeting.

Australia is part of the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against ISIL in Iraq and has deployed special forces troops to assist in training the local army.

'Because the ISIL or Daesh death cult has declared war on the world, including here and Australia.'

Mr Abbott said he looked forward to further talks with Baghdad and coalition partners about what Australia 'can usefully do'.

The prime minister's latest comments and those he made after a meeting with Iraqi leader Haider Al-Abadi on Sunday have led to speculation Australia might be prepared to go beyond its limited commitment to the conflict.

Back home, the Labor opposition is holding back bipartisan support for any expanded role.

Instead it will wait for a detailed briefing from the government before revealing its position.

Mr Abbott also rejected criticism of the secrecy surrounding his visit to Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

In a departure from previous practice, Australian media were excluded from covering the visit first-hand and were forced to rely on footage provided by the prime minister's office in Canberra.

The opposition accused the government of pursuing a culture of secrecy, saying it was not in the national interest.

But Mr Abbott said the media was excluded for 'understandable security reasons'.

Heather Mcnab for Daily Mail Australia and Daniel Piotrowski









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