The Federal Government is sending 600 Australian personnel to the Middle East in preparation for military action against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the United States had specifically requested Australia contribute to an international strike against the militants, who have captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Abbott said around 200 troops would be sent to the United Arab Emirates within days, including a Special Forces contingent “that could act as military advisers to the Iraqi armed forces or to the Peshmerga”.

They would be followed by around 400 Air Force personnel, up to eight Super Hornet aircraft, an early warning and control aircraft and an aerial refuelling aircraft.

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