The latest news on Australia's military deployment to the conflict in Iraq.
2 Oct 2014 - 10:12 AM  UPDATED 11 Nov 2014 - 7:00 AM
Thursday 9 Oct 2014

Australian fighter jets have attacked an Islamic State target in Iraq.

A Super Hornet jet dropped two bombs overnight on an Islamic State "facility", the ADF said in a statement.

"All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base," the statement said.

It is the first time Australia has launched air strikes since beginning combat operations on Sunday.

A statement from US Central Command said there were three airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq overnight and nine in Syria.

"In Iraq, one airstrike northwest of Ramadi destroyed an ISIL checkpoint," the statement said.

"One airstrike in Mosul destroyed four ISIL vehicles and damaged two others while another airstrike south of Kirkuk destroyed two ISIL fighting positions."

US Central Command also said airstrikes in Syria damaged and destroyed IS vehicles, barracks and compounds and a supply depot.

Australia is set to deploy 200 commandos and support personnel to Iraq to advise Iraqi forces on the ground.


Wednesday 8 Oct 2014

Australia fighter pilots in Iraq can use a "red card" to pull out of bombing targets when they decide it's too dangerous for civilians.


Australian fighter pilots had an Islamic State target in their sights but held fire because it entered a crowded area.

Australia's Super Hornets have flown missions in Iraq each night since Sunday - including Tuesday night - but are yet to drop any bombs on extremists from IS, also known as ISIL.

They are mostly operating west and north-west of Baghdad.

Defence chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin says the airstrikes by the US-led coalition are having an impact.

"Air stops forces like ISIL massing on the battlefield and taking ground and having freedom to manoeuvre," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"They understand that if they start to move in groups in the open, they will die."

Coalition forces had expected IS fighters to change tactics and spend more time in urban areas.

It was possible but unlikely that Australia plans would never drop any bombs during the mission, now dubbed Operation Okra.

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Tuesday 7 Oct 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the cost of increased national security and Australia's involvement in Iraq is manageable.

Tony Abbott won't say whether the budget has improved or worsened since the coalition came to power just over a year ago - but it is more "honest".

The prime minister has also ruled out lifting taxes to pay for the increased cost of national security and Australia's involvement in Iraq.

"This is a government that believes in lower taxes not higher taxes," Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"We will pay what we must to do our duty by our country and by the wider world."

Asked if the budget is in a worse position than we he came into government, Mr Abbott said: "It's honest today in a way that it was fundamentally dishonest when we came into government."

He said he aims to get the budget back in "broad balance" in 2017/18 with careful and cautious predictions and not inflated and optimistic predictions.

"We want the fiscal consolidation that needs to be achieved to be a real fiscal consolidation not a fantastical one," he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australian special forces are waiting for permission to enter Iraq from the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Abbott says the government is still finalising the paperwork and the legal framework that will allow the 200 soldiers, who are currently in the Middle East, to be deployed on the ground in Iraq.

He says he can't put a time frame on just when the troops will be ready but it won't be long.

Mr Abbott also ruled out a tax increase to pay the $500 million annual bill to keep Australian forces in Iraq.

"This is a Government which believes in lower taxes not higher taxes," he said.

"We will pay what we must to do our duty by our country and by the wider world. Just at the moment, national security and international security are indivisible. We think we can afford it."

More Australian combat missions against Islamic State forces will be conducted this week following the opening of combat operations on Sunday.

In that first operation, two RAAF Super Hornets conducted an armed patrol over Iraq.

But they weren't called in to attack any targets and returned to base with all weapons still on their racks.

Defence termed that a complete success - had they been required, they could have launched attacks.

This mission also involved an RAAF KC-30A air-to-air refuelling aircraft to "tank" the Australian aircraft on their long flight up the Persian Gulf. The tanker aircraft can also refuel coalition planes over the battlefield.

Also operating over Iraq was the RAAF's E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, managing air traffic over the increasingly crowded battlefield.

All these aircraft are new to the RAAF's inventory and are conducting their first ever combat deployments.