Australian troops are being sent into Iraq to protect the embassy.A small group of Australian troops have been sent into Iraq to help protect Australian embassy staff. Photo: Glenn Campbell

A small force of about half a dozen Australian troops has been sent to Baghdad to help protect Australian embassy staff as Iraq faces continuing upheaval amid a vicious jihadist insurgency.

Fairfax Media understands that the group of Australian Defence Force personnel will primarily liaise with the US military, which recently sent about 250 of its troops to guard its embassy in the city.

If the Australian embassy experiences an immediate threat, its staff would likely be moved to the much larger US compound for safety.

A spokesman for Defence Minister David Johnston said that a ”small Australian Defence Force liaison element has been deployed to the Australian embassy in Baghdad to support security arrangements”.

As Fairfax Media reported earlier this week, Australia’s elite SAS soldiers could be sent to Baghdad to evacuate diplomats if the security situation in the Iraqi capital deteriorates sharply.