Defence minister Kevin Andrews is set to order the extension of Australian airstrikes against the Islamic State from Iraq to eastern Syria.
“Our starting point is that we want to defeat Daesh (Islamic State) and at the moment the reality is Daesh operates as though there were no border there at all,” Andrews told The Australian.
“That means they can have their command and control structures across the border in eastern Syria and carry out their training there. They can finance their operations from eastern Syria.”
Although Andrews insisted that most of Australian operations would be based in Iraq, he also said it would be a “limited approach” if the air strikes were restricted by regional borders.
“At the moment we are acting with one hand tied behind our back,” he said.
“They cross a border which they do not respect but we are not able to do that. We will obviously be more effective if we are able to fly those missions into eastern Syria.”
Earlier last month, it was revealed that Tony Abbott had reached out to US president Barack Obama to discuss the possibility of Australian air strikes in the fight against the IS in Syria.
Although Australia has been part of the international effort to defeat IS since September last year, reports by Fairfax said that it was widely known in government circles that Abbott had long been keen to step up Australia’s fight against the IS.
The move followed calls by former ALP foreign minister Bob Carr who argued Australia had a moral obligation to join airstrikes in Syria.
“The West has really got a moral obligation to act where it can be argued there’s a chance of saving civilian populations from the mass atrocity crimes that seem to follow very quickly when ISIS takes control of territory,” he said on the ABC.
The IS has currently taken hold of parts of Syria and Iraq as well as establishing affiliates in Libya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
It is believed Super Hornet and Hornet fighter-bombers will be used in the mission in Iraq to target military depots as well as control and command targets used by ISIS.
Cabinet’s national security committee is expected to meet on Tuesday.