Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday that Australian military airplanes will join the U.S and an international coalition in support of airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Australian military planes will have a supportive role with flights over Iraq as the United States and its Arab allies fire away at Islamic State targets in neighboring Syria where IS militants have a strong base of support in northern Syria and Damascus is incapable of asserting control over the region.
“We have not yet made a final decision to commit our forces to combat but Australian aircraft from today will start flying over Iraq in support of allied operations,” Abbott told parliament on Wednesday.
In mid-September Australia sent 600 troops and 10 aircraft to United Arab Emirates in preparation for the U.S. led coalition.
Australia has already joined the international coalition in transferring weapons to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who are battling Islamic State militants on the ground.
Australia also participated in humanitarian relief airdrops to assailed Iraqi communities where ethnic minorities were targeted by Islamic State militants in August.
On September 18th Australian police detained 15 people after receiving intelligence reports indicating that Islamic State militants were planning to carry out public beheading in two Australian cities.
U.S. And Allies Continue Bombing Campaigns in Iraq and Syria
On Tuesday Rear Admir John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary, said that the U.S. launched another round of overnight strikes in Iraq and in Syria, totaling more than 20, divided evenly between Iraq and Syria with fixed and mobile targets.
Kirby reported that the U.S. and coalition partners have conducted nearly 310 attacks from the air with more than 230 in Iraq and the remaining 76 carried out in Syria.
Islamic State militants have reacted to the bombing by mixing in with civilian populations and traveling more surreptitiously across the region.
Kirby explained on Tuesday that Islamic State militants have been adapting and changing their strategy in the face of international military opposition.
“Yes, they’re blending in more. Yes, they’re dispersing, and yes they aren’t communicating quite as openly or as boldly as they once were. That’s a good thing, because if they aren’t operating as freely, then they aren’t as free to achieve their goals” Admir. Kirby said in a Pentagon press briefing on Tuesday.