A key ISIS terror commander in Iraq has been killed during a bombing raid by elements of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
Vice Admiral David Johnston, Australia’s Chief of Joint Operations, made the announcement Wednesday in an update on RAAF air combat operations in the Middle East.
Speaking to reporters in the national capital Canberra, VAdm. Johnston said a RAAF Hornet bomber destroyed an ISIS, or Daesh, base in Anbar province in early July, killing the battalion commander and 15 fighters.
“This leader controlled Daesh operations in an area of western Iraq and directed attack planning and execution by Daesh forces,” VAdm Johnston said. The commander, who was not directly identified, co-ordinated fighters and supplies in the region seen by coalition forces as a priority area to seize back.
“The removal, and it was a successful removal, of this individual has caused significant disruption and degradation to Daesh offensive operations,” VAdm. Johnston continued, adding it would also make it safer for coalition and Iraqi forces.
He said “slow and steady” progress was being made by Iraqi forces, trained by Australian and New Zealand forces, in taking back the key city of Ramadi. “While gains here are measured in streets and buildings rather than square kilometres, it reflects a growing level of resilience and provides evidence that progress is being achieved.”
The news of the successful attack comes just one week after Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed Australia is discussing with its allies the prospect of expanding RAAF bombing raids against ISIS from Iraq into Syria and hinted he favours doing so, saying “the morality is the same” on either side of the border.
While insisting that no formal request from the US has been made, nor any decision taken by the Australian government, Mr Abbott confirmed discussions about an expansion of the RAAF’s mission have taken place.
As Breitbart London has previously reported, Mr Abbott is keen for Australia to stand alongside its western allies in the global fight against terror and he thinks the US in particular is bearing an unequal load in the skies over Iraq and Syria.
“While the legality is different, whether these air strikes are taking place in Syria or Iraq, the morality is the same,” Mr Abbott said.
“The death cult is just as evil on either side of the border. It’s just as dangerous on either side of the border. It’s just as deadly on either side of the border and that’s why I can understand why there is some interest on the part of our partners in Australian air strikes being extended.”
Mr Abbott refused to go into detail but but said “obviously there have been some approaches made at various levels.”
Australia currently contributes six RAAF F/A-18 Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft and a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) to air operations. On the ground Australian and New Zealand special forces have joined together in a single, unified task group to train the Iraqi army in offensive operations. To date it has to date trained 1600 Iraqi soldiers.
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