Australia, Belgium launch anti-ISIS missions in Iraq

Arab World Materials 6 October 2014 10:55 (UTC +04:00)

Australian and Belgian fighter jets have flown their first armed combat mission in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), official sources said on Monday, Al Arabiya reported.

"The Super Hornet aircraft conducted an air interdiction and close air support mission over northern Iraq overnight," the Australian Defence Force said in a statement.

"The Super Hornets were on-call to attack targets as identified.

"On this occasion the aircraft did not use their munitions and have returned to base to disarm and prepare for future sorties."

The flights are the first since the Australian government on Friday authorized strikes on ISIS militants in Iraq.

Canberra is also deploying 200 soldiers to Iraq, including special forces, to advise Iraqi and Kurdish troops but has yet to receive the final approval from the Iraqi government.

Australia is part of the international coalition conducting an air campaign against IS that the United States has been building since first launching air strikes in August.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has spoken strongly against IS, saying the decision to support international operations is in Australia's national interest.

"The beheadings, the crucifixions, mass executions, ethnic cleansing and sexual slavery that are occurring in northern Iraq and Syria, are only the beginning if ISIL has its way," he said on Saturday.