Iraq conflict: Australian Super Hornet drops two bombs on Islamic State targets in Iraq
Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet onto what Defence described as an “ISIL facility”.
A Defence statement said all aircraft left the target area safely and returned to base.
Pilots of the Super Hornet jet fighters had aborted one of their previous air strikes because of concerns about causing civilian casualties.
The ADF is working with other Western and Middle Eastern nations to push back the terrorist group that has taken ground in Iraq and Syria.
Australia has contributed six F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets, a surveillance aircraft, a refueler, 200 special forces soldiers, and 400 military support staff to the US-led mission.
The special forces contingent is on standby waiting for authorities to agree on a final legal framework for it to be deployed in Iraq.
The US Central Command said the recent bombing in Iraq had targeted checkpoints, vehicles and fighting positions in several cities.
The US and other nations have also bombed parts of Syria and said Kurdish militia are managing to hold the besieged city of Kobane.
However, Australia is not taking part in the air strikes on Syria, with the Federal Government saying the legal and diplomatic situation there is different.
Yesterday Prime Minister Tony Abbott left open the possibility of Australia joining a ground campaign against IS militants “down the track”, saying “let’s see how it goes”.
“We’ve got a special forces team of up to 200 that are ready to go and they’ll be performing advise and assist missions with the Iraqi security forces, with the best of the Iraqi security forces,” he told Macquarie Radio in Sydney.
“We’ll be in a better position to judge what might be desirable down the track once we’re in there.”
Previously, Mr Abbott had said that Australia had “no intention” of committing combat troops on the ground in Iraq.
Mr Abbott said the Australian mission in Iraq was “absolutely crystal clear” and was aiming to “disrupt and degrade” Islamic State.
“We’ve got a very clear way to do this, by flying combat air patrols over Iraq, which we’re doing, and by advising and assisting some of the better units of the Iraqi armed forces,” he said.
“Let’s put that mission fully into practise, let’s see how it goes.”
Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the strikes had the support of the Labor Party, and that it was right for the Government to focus on air strikes rather than sending ground troops.
“I am convinced that with dozens of nations involved in supporting the government of Iraq, that the government of Iraq and its neighbouring countries can take the lead in any ground war,” she said.
“Labor has said from the beginning that we don’t support Australian troops being involved in a ground war in Iraq.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was not expecting Australian troops would take part in operations on the ground.
“I don’t envisage those circumstances arising,” she said.
“It’s not what we’ve been asked to do. We have responded to a general request from the United States and more specific requests from the Iraqi government to support the Iraqi government so that it can defend itself from ISIL and other terrorist organisations that are taking territory but also conducting some of the most atrocious, brutal behaviour that we’ve ever seen from a terrorist organisation.
“We respond to specific requests and that’s what we’ve done in this instance.”