Australia launches first airstrike in Iraq
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian jet fighter has made the country’s first airstrike against an Islamic State target in Iraq since the Australian government committed its air force to combat missions, defense officials said on Thursday.
The Australian Defense Force did not say what type of facility had been attacked or where in northern Iraq it was.
“Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an ISIL facility” overnight, a Defense statement said.
“All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base,” it added.
Australia has six Super Hornets based in the United Arab Emirates. A 200-strong ground force including special forces are waiting for legal guarantees from the Iraqi government before they enter that country to advise and assist Iraqi security forces. The Australian troops will not take part in combat.
Defense Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said on Wednesday that the Australian Super Hornets had flown several missions over northern Iraq without firing their weapons since Australia committed them to combat on Friday last week.
An Islamic State vehicle had been targeted on one occasion, but it had not been attacked because of the risk to surrounding civilians, he said.