Australian fighter jets have destroyed an armoured personnel carrier belonging to Islamic State (IS), the first operation by Australian forces in Syria, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said on Wednesday.
Last week, Australia agreed to expand into Syria the air strikes it has been undertaking in Iraq against IS, also known as Daesh, in response to a formal request from Washington. “I can advise that two days ago the air task group completed its first strike against a Daesh target in Eastern Syria, destroying an armoured personnel carrier,” Andrews told reporters in Canberra.
Andrews said the expansion of operations into Syria was a logical extension of Australia’s commitment in the Middle East and was needed to protect the security of Iraq. “(Daesh) controls a large amount of territory in eastern Syria that serves as a source of recruitment and oil revenues,” Andrews said in a subsequent statement.
“From Syria, Daesh has been able to operate its training bases, conduct planning and preparation for attacks, and move fighters and equipment into, and out of, Iraq.” Australia agreed a year ago to join the U.S.-led international force battling IS in Iraq, committing a squadron of Super Hornet fighter jets, as well as support aircraft and a 600-strong group of airforce personnel and special forces soldiers.