Australia to pull fighter jets out of Iraq and Syria


The Royal Australian Air Force will stop its bombing missions in Iraq after the recent declaration of victory over IS.

Australian military aircraft will no longer fly combat operations over Iraq, the Defence Minister Marise Payne announced on Friday.

"The Australian government has determined we will bring home our six Super Hornet strike aircraft from the Middle East, marking the end of Australia's air strike operations in Iraq and Syria," she said.

"We can be immensely proud of the contribution our Hornet crews have made to the fight against Daesh. There's no doubt our air strike operations have made a difference."

The Australian military's Air Task Group consisted of six F/A-18 fighter jets, an E-7A Wedgetail surveillance plane and KC-30A refuelling aircraft.

But Australian support aircraft will continue to operate in the Middle East, as well as its military training mission.

"They will continue to support the Iraqi Security Forces and counter-terrorism service in their work to ensure that Daesh is precluded from taking any further hold," Minister Payne said.

"If they (Islamic State) can find a way to continue to cause havoc, they will."

Apart from the RAAF effort, the Australian military also trains Iraqi troops in conventional and Special Forces roles.

Task Group Taji consists of approximately 300 Australian and New Zealand troops and is based near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Earlier this month, Task Group Taji 6, the sixth iteration of the training mission, began.

Since 2015, the Australian Defence Force claims it has trained more than 28,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel.

The RAAF contingent came under the whole of military effort known as Operation Okra, which commenced in 2014 under the Abbott Government to defeat IS.

It also extendeded into Syria in 2015.

In 2017, Australian fighter jets completed 702 sorties, or missions, according to the Department of Defence.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the extremist group IS in December.

The Australian Defence Force is also training troops in Afghanistan and the Philippines.

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