World / Asia-Pacific

Australia launches first bombing raid against IS in Iraq

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-09 10:36

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CANBERRA -- Australian fighter jets have made their first strike against Islamic State militants in Iraq, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) announced on Thursday.

In carrying out the air strike overnight, pilots of an F/A-18F Super Hornet dropped two bombs on "an ISIL facility."

"Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an ISIL facility," the ADF statement said, using the government's preferred acronym for the Islamic State (IS). "All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base. No further details of this mission are available at this time."

Pilots of the Super Hornets had aborted one of their previous air strikes because of concerns about causing civilian casualties.

The ADF is working with some other Western and Middle Eastern nations to push back the terrorist group that has taken ground in Iraq and Syria.

Australia has contributed six F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets, a surveillance aircraft, a refueler, 200 special forces soldiers, and 400 military support staff to the US-led mission.

Speaking on Fairfax radio on Thursday, Abbott said that the government was still working on the legal framework for the 200 special forces members to be deployed in Iraq.

The prime minister played down the potential for special forces to be engaged or involved in combat operations -- although he did not rule it out.

"It's not our intention that they will engage in actual combat, " he told 3AW. "Certainly there will be no independent combat operations by Australian forces."

Abbott went out of his way to praise opposition leader, Bill Shorten, for his bipartisan stance on Australian troops being sent to the Middle East.

"He (Shorten) is an Australian patriot. He fully understand the threat that ISIL poses," Abbott said.

"He wants to see Australian forces deployed in a sensible way to protect our country and protect the wider world and I'm confident we will continue to have strong bipartisanship from the opposition."

The prime minister said he was confident the bipartisanship would continue -- although he said it remained incumbent on Labor to come up with alternative savings measures if it did not approve of the Coalition's.




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