Australian warplanes make first air strike in Syria against ISIS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian warplanes have carried out their first air strike in Syria against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), destroying an armoured personnel carrier, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said on Wednesday (Sept 16).

"This is part of our logical extension in the fight against Daesh to operate not just over northern Iraq but also to operate over eastern Syria in order to degrade and destroy Daesh Forces," the minister told reporters, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A Hornet fighter destroyed an ISIS armoured personnel carrier with a guided missile two days ago, Andrews said.

"Two of our Hornets identified the personnel carrier, which was hidden in a Daesh compound.

"That information was reported back to the combined operations centre by our Wedgetail command and control aircraft, and upon receiving authorisation to proceed, one of the Hornets employed a precision guided weapon to destroy the target," he said.

"Sorties are being flown over Syria and Iraq, the majority of our missions are still over Iraq and we're doing them on a very regular basis," Andrews added.

The United States, Canada, Turkey and Gulf states have already been involved in strikes on ISIS militants in Syria, while France has been carrying out surveillance flights over Syria in preparation for air strikes.

Australia joined the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq last year and last week extended air operations into Syria, saying the legal basis was the collective self-defence of Iraq against the jihadist group.

Australian aircraft completed their first operation over Syria on Friday but did not attack any targets.