Australian war planes to join strikes on Islamic State in Iraq

Australia`s Cabinet on Friday authorised military air strikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq and the deployment of special forces troops to combat the militants, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Sydney: Australia`s Cabinet on Friday authorised military air strikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq and the deployment of special forces troops to combat the militants, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

"Today, Cabinet has authorised Australian air strikes in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and in support of the Iraqi government," Abbott said. 

"Also, subject to final legal documentation, cabinet has authorised the deployment of Australian special forces into Iraq to advise and assist Iraqi forces."

The announcement comes days after Australian military jets took part in support missions over Iraq with the US-led international coalition.

"It`s very much in Australia`s national interest that we do this useful work to disrupt and degrade ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) at home and abroad," the prime minister added.

"It could take quite some time, but we will know that we are succeeding, when ISIL are in retreat, not in advance. We will know that we are succeeding when the Iraqi government is restoring a modicum of control over its own cities and towns."

Australia deployed some 600 troops and several aircraft to the United Arab Emirates in mid-September as it geared up to join the American-led air assault.

Australia had already joined the US in an international effort to transport weapons to Kurdish forces fighting IS extremists in northern Iraq. 

It has also conducted humanitarian air drops in besieged Iraqi towns.

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