Australian Super Hornets drop bombs on ISIS
AUSTRALIAN fighter jets have dropped their first bombs in Iraq in their mission against Islamic State targets.
But defence authorities remained tight-lipped as to what those targets were and only said the aircraft returned safely to the Middle Eastern base.
Australian Super Hornet pilots had aborted a previous air strike because the risk of civilian casualties was too high.
The strikes form part of Australia's involvement with other Western and Middle Eastern countries to push back the threat of the Islamic State or ISIS, as it overtakes swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Full statement from ADF:
Overnight the Australian Air Task Group operating in the Middle East attacked its first target in Iraq.
Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an ISIL facility.
All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base.
No further details of this mission are available at this time.
Further information will be provided when Defence conducts its next Operation OKRA update briefing.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, talking on Thursday in Melbourne, praised Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for his party's strong ongoing support of the government's decision to join coalition forces in Iraq.
"I have had numerous conversations with Bill about this and he is an Australian patriot," he said.
"He fully understands the threat that ISIL poses and he wants to see Australian forces deployed in a sensible way to protect our country and to protect the wider world."
Mr Abbott remained coy about when 200 Australian Special Forces soldiers who are on standby in the region would be deployed.
He said the soldiers would not engage in actual combat and stressed Australian forces would not conduct independent combat operations.
"They will be there on an advice and assist mission," he said.
"They will be working with Iraqi units and some of them may be deployed as combat air controllers to call in air strikes."
Mr Abbott defended suggestions from some sections of the community that Australia, through its involvement in Iraq, had been complicit in the death of millions of Muslims.
"What we are doing right now is defending millions of Muslims from the murderous rage of ISIL," he said.
"They are indiscriminate killers.
"It has nothing to do with religion . . . the only god they worship is death."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said in Hobart he would continue to offer the government bipartisan support for Australian operations in Iraq.