The Australian Government is considering deploying soldiers to Iraq to help train and advise the Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) militants in the country.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "We are continuing to talk to our partners and allies about how Australia might be able to contribute, whether we should help with some air capability, whether we should help with some military advisers."
The Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also indicated that the country was prepared to expand its military role in Iraq, to include possible air strikes.
Bishop was quoted by ABC Radio as saying: "Ideally it would be best for Iraqi security forces to defend the country against the murderous advance of terrorists, but there’s an anticipated role for some countries to provide trainers and advisers.
"Australia hasn’t had a specific request so we’ll consider any request once it’s received, weigh the risks, and assess what role we can play."
If a request is made by the US, Australia could deploy F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters to support the multi-national air campaign against the IS militants, and some elite special forces as advisers.
Additional assets that might be offered by Australia include KC30A refuelling aircraft, AP-3C Orion, C-130 and C-17 transport aircraft, as well as Boeing 737 airborne early warning and control aircraft, as reported by The Australian Financial Review.
The Australian C-130 Super Hercules aircraft have already delivered humanitarian aid and weapons to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq as part of a multi-national effort.
On 10 September, US President Brack Obama is expected to outline his strategy to combat IS militants in Iraq and Syria, and is likely to seek help from allies, including Australia.
In a related development, the Canadian Department of National Defence has deployed several dozen members of the Canadian Armed Forces to Iraq to initially advise Iraqi forces for a period of up to 30 days.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: "The deployment of members of the Canadian Armed Forces is a concrete measure to deter the murderous rampage of ISIL and respond to the humanitarian crisis it has caused."