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Shorten visits troops in Iraq

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Iraqi troops trained by Australian forces are making strong inroads in the fight against Islamic State, says Bill Shorten who has made a pre-Christmas visit to the Middle East.

The opposition leader visited Australia's force base in the Middle East and received briefings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

He also addressed Australian and New Zealand military trainers in Taji.

"The training our forces are providing, together with our New Zealand partners and as part of the international coalition, is making a significant difference to Iraq's ability to fight and defeat Daesh," Mr Shorten said after the trip.

"Iraqi forces continue to make strong inroads in their battle to defeat Daesh.

"Our defence personnel are contributing directly to the successes in claiming back territory, and this remains critically important as Iraqi forces continue to lead a major offensive to claim back the city of Mosul."

He was briefed on the role of Australia's special forces in working with Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service and the success of RAAF airstrikes to weaken Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Shorten said Australians should be proud of the work being done by the Australian Defence Force in the Middle East.

"As we all prepare to spend time with loved ones over the Christmas break, it is also important we acknowledge the families of our defence personnel who will sit down to lunch with a seat left empty. They give as much to our nation as their loved ones in uniform," Mr Shorten said.

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