Australia to join airstrikes against IS in Iraq

Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given the go-ahead for Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighters to begin airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation in Iraq, media reported Friday.

The Australian government has also agreed to send 200 Special Forces advisors to Iraq to advise and assist local forces on the ground, though the Australians will not take part in independent combat operations, WA Today online reported.

After the government's National Security Committee gave the nod to air combat operations, the cabinet then approved the action and the opposition was also briefed.

"It is an essentially humanitarian mission, yes, it is a combat deployment but it is an essentially humanitarian mission to protect the people of Iraq and ultimately the people of Australia from the murderous rage of the ISIL (now known as IS) death cult," the prime minister said.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has also supported the government's decision to start airstrikes against IS militants in Iraq.

The Australian defence force is likely to start airstrikes Sunday.

The US and five Arab allies launched airstrikes against IS militants in Syria in the last week of September.

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