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Australian warplanes make first air strike in Syria

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Australian warplanes have carried out their first air strike against the Islamic State group in Syria, destroying an armoured personnel carrier, defence minister Kevin Andrews has revealed.

“This is part of our logical extension in the fight against Daesh to operate not only over northern Iraq, but also to operate over eastern Syria, in order to degrade and destroy Daesh Forces,” Andrews told reporters using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A Hornet fighter destroyed an IS armoured personnel carrier with a guided missile two days ago, Andrews said.

“Two of our Hornets identified the personnel carrier, which was hidden in a Daesh compound. That information was reported back to the combined operations centre by our Wedgetail command and control aircraft, and upon receiving authorisation to proceed, one of the Hornets employed a precision guided weapon to destroy the target,” he said.

“Sorties are being flown over Syria and Iraq, the majority of our missions are still over Iraq and we’re doing them on a very regular basis,” Andrews said.

The United States, Canada, Turkey and Gulf states have already been involved in strikes on IS militants in Syria, while
France has been carrying out surveillance flights over Syria, in preparation for air strikes.

Australia joined the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq last year and last week extended air operations into Syria, saying the legal basis was the collective self-defence of Iraq against the jihadist group.

Australian aircraft completed their first operation over Syria on Friday but did not attack any targets.
Britain killed two jihadists in a drone attack in Syria last week.

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