Australian Warplanes Make First Air Strike in Syria


Australian warplanes have carried out their first air strike against Islamic State group in Syria, destroying an armored personnel carrier, Defense Minister Kevin Andrews said Wednesday.

"This is part of our logical extension in the fight against Daesh to operate not just over northern Iraq but also to operate over eastern Syria in order to degrade and destroy Daesh Forces," the minister told reporters using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A Hornet fighter destroyed an IS armored personnel carrier with a guided missile two days ago, Andrews said.

"Two of our Hornets identified the personnel carrier, which was hidden in a Daesh compound.

"That information was reported back to the combined operations center by our Wedgetail command and control aircraft, and upon receiving authorization to proceed, one of the Hornets employed a precision guided weapon to destroy the target," he said.

"Sorties are being flown over Syria and Iraq, the majority of our missions are still over Iraq and we're doing them on a very regular basis," Andrews added.

The United States, Canada, Turkey and Gulf states have already been involved in strikes on IS militants in Syria, while France has been carrying out surveillance flights over Syria in preparation for air strikes.

Australia joined the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq last year and last week extended air operations into Syria, saying the legal basis was the collective self-defense of Iraq against the jihadist group.

Australian aircraft completed their first operation over Syria on Friday but did not attack any targets.

Britain killed two jihadists in a drone attack in Syria last week.

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