Australian fighter jets are to join the international coalition striking back against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq.
Prime Minister Tony Abbot says the involvement of its air force will help protect the Iraqi people – and ultimately Australians – from what he described as a “death cult”.
“I want to stress that only Iraq can defeat ISIL (Islamic State),” said Abbott. “But Iraq shouldn’t be alone and as far as Australia and our allies are concerned, Iraq won’t be alone. I have to warn that this deployment to Iraq could be quite lengthy. Certainly months rather than weeks.”
Six Super Hornet fighters , recently deployed to the United Arab Emirates, will take part in airstrikes. Two other Australian air force planes joined surveillance operations over Iraq on Wednesday.
Australia joins Turkey, who’s parliament approved its involvement in the fight back against ISIL on Thursday. Ankara will also allow foreign coalition forces to launch military operation from its territory.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it would do everything possible to prevent Kobani, a Syrian town which borders Turkey, falling to extremists.
The group calling itself Islamic State or ISIL has captured about a third of Iraq and Syria in recent months as it seeks to create its own caliphate.