Australian air force ends mission in Iraq air strikes

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-17 14:37:03|Editor: Yurou
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CANBERRA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has flown its final strike mission over Iraq in the fight against Islamic State (IS), an RAAF chief marshal said on Tuesday night.

Australian F/A-18 Hornets have conducted operations in Iraq since October 2014, providing support to troops as they fought to reclaim Mosul and other cities from IS.

Marise Payne, Australia's Defence Minister announced in December that Australia's operations in Iraq would be wound back after the Iraqi government declared victory over the extremist group.

Mark Binskin, an Air Chief Marshal in the RAAF, said Australian fighter jets had made a significant contribution to the fight against IS.

"Over more than three years, hundreds of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have deployed to the Middle East as part of the Air Task Group (ATG) strike element," Binskin said in a media release.

"With each deployment, they have demonstrated the highest levels of skill, courage and professionalism.

"Our aircrew and their support crews have consistently delivered in extremely difficult and challenging conditions.

"The Air Strike Group and their families can be proud of their achievements and their important contribution to help the Iraqi Security Forces liberate their country from Daesh."

Six Australian super hornets conducted the strikes in Iraq on their last mission, which were coordinated by a U.S.-led coalition, and will now fly back home.

The end of the air strikes does not mark the end of Australia's military involvement in Iraq, Binskin said. The ATG will stay on and support the coalition air campaign.

"The ADF will continue to work with our coalition and Iraqi partners over the coming months to establish their ongoing requirements and assess where they can make the most valuable contribution, as we work to maintain the gains in that region," Binskin said.