The United States has formally asked Australia to expand its role in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne would not confirm the development this morning, but told Channel Nine the government would respond to any request from the US.
“I don’t believe any decision has been made by the government and obviously we would be briefing the Opposition,” he said.
Treasurer Joe Hockey later said there were processes in place for handling such requests but acknowledged Australia had “an obligation” to help out.
“Our enemies see no borders over in the Middle East. ISIL sees no borders, and we have an obligation to do whatever we can to stop the evil that they are perpetrating,” he said.
Australia’s current involvement in Syria is limited to refuelling and gathering intelligence. Should the Australia become more involved, the role could see the RAAF conduct air strikes.
Australia deployed an air task group to the Middle East in 2014, with the first combat mission flown on October 6, but they only operated up to the Iraq-Syria border.
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