Australians have been told to leave Iraq immediately by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has described the escalating crisis as deeply disturbing.
Insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have taken a swath of mostly Sunni Arab territory in northern Iraq in an offensive that has brought fighting close to Baghdad.
The worsening crisis prompted Ms Bishop to urge Australians to leave ‘‘immediately’’.
‘‘The airport in Baghdad is still open. Commercial flights are still operating out of Baghdad,’’ she told the Ten Network.
‘‘But if Australians must stay in Iraq, they must ensure that their personal circumstances and their security is absolutely safe.’’
The Australian embassy in Baghdad would be ‘‘very constrained’’ in the support it could provide, she said.
In Houston, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would wait to see how the US responded to the situation before responding.
Ms Bishop defended the 2003 military intervention in Iraq, which she supported as a member of the Howard government.
‘‘I thought Saddam Hussein was one of the worst dictators on the planet at that time. His removal was a good thing,’’ she said.
Greens leader Christine Milne said following the US into Iraq was not going to ‘‘fix’’ the violence in the country.
‘‘Clearly it didn’t work last time in Iraq and it won’t work this time.’’ AAP