Malcolm Turnbull has visited the Australian troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Bill Shorten is visiting for Anzac day commemorations.
The prime minister also met the Iraqi prime minister, Haider Al-Abadi, in Baghdad and the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in Kabul during the trip, as well as the US secretary of defence, James Mattis. Turnbull reiterated Australia’s commitment to defeating terrorism and working alongside the US, Nato and Afghan partners to build Afghanistan’s security institutions.
There are more than 1700 ADF personnel deployed in the Middle East, with about 750 on Operation Okra in Iraq and Syria and 270 on Operation Highroad in .
In Baghdad, Turnbull met special forces troops to thank them for their service in support of security and development in the region, and to hand out 15 service medals.
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Since 2002, 42 Australians have died as a result of service in Afghanistan and two from service in . Turnbull paid tribute to their sacrifice and praised those who continued to risk their lives defending the Australian values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
In a Facebook post, Turnbull delivered an message.
“We do not glorify war,” he said. “Anzac Day is not the anniversary of a great victory. But it commemorates the triumph of the human spirit – the patriotism, the sacrifice, the endurance, the courage, the mateship.
“We pay tribute to those who faced the horrors of war and we reflect on the heavy burden of war still felt by many Australians.
“We are reminded today as every day that the best way to honour the service men and women of a century ago is to support the service men and women of today.”
For more than two years, the Australian Special Operations Task Group has been advising and assisting the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service in the battle against Isis. This includes providing leadership mentoring, tactical movement training, IED reduction, operational planning and counter-terrorism operations training.
Turnbull committed another $110m in humanitarian and stabilisation assistance for Iraq during the visit.
He then travelled to Taji in Iraq, where Australia has trained more than 20,000 ISF personnel and 3,000 federal police.
Earlier this month, the government advised Australians travelling to Gallipoli for Anzac Day that terrorists could try to target Turkey and warned travellers should exercise a high degree of caution.
The veterans affairs minister, Dan Tehan, said that situation had not changed.
“We want all Australians to pay attention to the [foreign affairs department] travel advisory for Turkey and for those who are there to make sure they do obey what the officials are telling them to do on the peninsula,” Tehan told the ABC.
Tehan said foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop’s visit to Gallipoli for the service should reassure Australians.
“It is a reassurance and it also shows that the Australian government will do all it can to send a message to the terrorists that we will not be cowed by them and that we will continue to live our lives and commemorate our fallen as we should,” Tehan said.
Tens of thousands of Australians attended dawn service ceremonies on Tuesday, 102 years after the landing at Gallipoli.
Sapper Curtis McGrath, who lost both legs to an IED in Afghanistan in August 2012, told the service at the Australian War Memorial that war “has taken a terrible toll and for some it’s far from over”.
He urged the nation to provide “dedicated, unhesitating service to our fighting forces” – a call echoed by Ben Roberts-Smith, the Victoria Cross recipient, at the Anzac Day dawn service in Melbourne.
“The hard-won character, capabilities and skills that defined them in the field are long-held staples for life,” said Roberts-Smith, now an executive with the Seven Network.
Around 30,000 Victoria residents attended the dawn service, down from the 45,000 last year.
“I think we can put that entirely down to the weather,” David Lee, the Shrine of Remembrance chief executive, told reporters.
Close to 20,000 people ran the length of Martin Place on the 90th anniversary of Sydney’s first dawn service. The minute’s silence was cut short by a protester, who chanted “stop the war” before being drowned out by the army bugle.
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In Brisbane, thousands stood silently at the Shrine of Remembrance in Anzac Square at a ceremony attended by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
On the Gold Coast at Currumbin, dignitaries including former prime minister Tony Abbott and members of the Queensland Police Service were among the huge estimated crowd of 15,000.
Tuesday’s commemoration honoured service past and present, with a company of 12 light horsemen leading veterans into the service.
The service also included a flyover involving a Vietnam-era Iroquois helicopter and the now-traditional burial at sea ceremony where local rowing crews scattered the ashes of 34 veterans and their family members on the waves.
In Darwin about 2,000 people attended a muggy pre-dawn service at the Cenotaph to commemorate the ill-fated landings by Australian and New Zealand soldiers.
NT chief minister Michael Gunner, some of the last surviving second world war diggers, young troops fresh from deployments in Iraq and about 100 US Marines currently serving in the NT capital attended.