The Government of Australia has decided to extend its air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) into Syria, marking the next phase of the country’s contribution to the international coalition effort.
According to the government, the decision comes as a response to Iraq’s request for international assistance to strike ISIL (Daesh) strongholds, and a formal request from the US Government.
According to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the new military development was ‘very much in Australia’s national interest,’ The Guardian reported.
Abbott was quoted as saying: "We cannot defeat Daesh in Iraq without defeating Daesh in Syria, too.
"I emphasise that our aircraft will be targeting Daesh, not the Assad regime, evil though it is."
The latest decision is expected to help protect Iraq and its people from Daesh attacks inside Iraq and from across the border in Syria, the Australian Government stated.
With this decision, Australia will join with countries including the US, Canada, France, Arab countries and Turkey in Syria to fight against ISIL.
Australia’s Air Task Group that deployed to the Middle East region comprises six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.
The decision to expand air operations comes days after France announced its plan to launch airstrikes against ISIL in Syria. France also said that the country would extend the mission to begin airstrikes later.
As part of this development, the French Air Force’s two Rafale fighter aircraft recently performed more than six hours of flight over Syria, marking the country’s first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission.
A statement from the French Air Force stated that the mission allowed them to gather intelligence on the ISIL.