Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced Australia will conduct air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.
Six Australian F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets are on standby in the Middle East, while up to eight aircaft have been approved for air strikes.
“ISIL has effectively declared war on the world… the world is responding,” Abbott said.
Australia’s National Security Committee has also agreed to deploy special forces troops in an advisory role inside Iraq.
“It is absolutely in Australia’s national interest that this mission go ahead,” the Prime Minister added.
Abbott said there was no time limit on Australia’s involvement in combat operations in Iraq.
“We will be there for as long as is necessary but but no longer than we need to be,” Abbott said.
“It could take quite some time… we will know that we are succeeding when ISIL is in retreat, not in advance,” he said.
Abbott says Australian forces will do “whatever is humanly possible” to minimise civilian casualties.
The PM stressed that Australia was not technically at war and was operating at the request of the Iraqi government.
“We are engaged in combat operations but these are combat operations against an insurgency, in support of the government of Iraq.”
“Only Iraq can defeat ISIL but Iraq shouldn’t be alone… Iraq isn’t alone.”
Abbott warned the Australian public that “this is a dangerous mission”, however, he said “this is essentially a humanitarian mission.”
Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin said “We are well aware of the risks” adding that air strikes “will start over the coming days”.
Australia’s decision to conduct air strikes comes on the back of the UN Security Council’s decision to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.
Australia deployed 600 personnel to the Middle East last month. 200 of these forces are reported to be military advisors.
Tony Abbott Announces Air Strikes In Iraq
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.