Australian forces begin support mission in Iraq

KC-30 aerial refueling tanker. Image credit - Lockhead Martin.
KC-30 aerial refueling tanker. Image credit – Lockhead Martin.

Baghdad ( Australian military aircraft began supporting the joint international operation against Islamic State extremists in Iraq on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced.

Australia had not yet made the final decision to commit forces to combat, but Australian aircraft from Wednesday will start flying over Iraq in support of allied operations, Abbott told Parliament.

A KC-30 aerial refueling tanker and a Wedgetail early warning surveillance plane were starting flights to help the United States and other allied missions. If the government gives approval, Super Hornet fighters will begin combat missions in Iraq in the coming weeks.

“I stress ours are support operations, not strike missions. Australian airstrikes await final clearances from the Iraqi government and a further decision by our own. But from today our refueler and our Wedgetail will operate over Iraq in support of United States and other coalition aircraft,” Abbott said.

“Australia can’t change the world but we can make a difference. Our objective is to support governments that neither commit genocide against their own people nor permit terrorism against ours,” he said.

“Our objective is to allow people to live their own lives in their own way and to worship in whatever way they choose,” Abbott added.

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