Australian air force completes first mission over Syria


Australian air force planes conducted their first mission over Syria overnight, the Defence Department announced Saturday.

The raid came just three days after the Australian government agreed to a US request to join coalition forces bombing Islamic State positions inside Syria.

Two Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets, an RAAF refueling plane and an E-7A command aircraft were involved in the mission overnight, but no weapons were fired.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his party Saturday that Australia was “responding in strength” to the threat posed by Islamic State, “our planes are now striking at terrorist targets inside Syria as well as in Iraq too.”

Australian Air Task Group commander Air Commodore Stu Bellingham said Hornets searching for enemy activity in eastern Syria reported their findings to combined air operations.

“Daesh (Islamic State) controls a large amount of territory in eastern Syria that serves as a source of recruitment and oil revenues, and as a base from which it continues to launch attacks into Iraq,” Bellingham said.

Coalition forces crossing the border into Syria to target IS include the United States, Canada, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. France and Britain are also expected to conduct raids inside Syria.