Large crowds mark Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand

SYDNEY: Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders, many braving heavy rain, turned out on Tuesday to mark the Gallipoli landing and to pay tribute to soldiers in current conflict zones in moving ceremonies. Ceremonies are held annually on the April 25 anniversary of the ill-fated 1915 landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in modern-day Turkey during World War I, known as Anzac Day. More than 10,000 New Zealand and Australian servicemen died in the failed eight-month campaign, and Gallipoli became a defining symbol of courage and comradeship for the two countries.
Dawn services also acknowledged the contributions of troops currently serving in the Middle East, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited camps in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Like your forebears, 100 years ago, the Anzacs of the First World War, you are here in the Middle East as the Anzacs were,” Turnbull told soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq. “This time (it’s) the fight against terrorism and you’re on the front line here and I want to thank you… for your service.” The Australian leader also met with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al Abadi and pledged an additional A$110 million ($83 million) in funding to combat the IS group.
In Afghanistan, he met with President Ashraf Ghani, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Australian personnel in Qargha outside Kabul. There are some 270 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed in Afghanistan and another 780 in the Middle East including Iraq. Forty-two Australians have died while on military service in Afghanistan and two in Iraq since 2002. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid tribute to the war dead in an Anzac Day message. In Canberra, indigenous veterans — who had to fight to be recognised for their sacrifices — led the national march for the first time.  Drawing attention to the current batch of troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, Curtis McGrath spoke of how his friends fought to save him in 2012 after an explosion blew off his legs. — AFP