Tony Abbott and the Coalition Government have today officially given the go-ahead for fighter jets from the Royal Australian Air Force to begin operations – including airstrikes – against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.

Abbott announced the commencement of military involvement in the region – joining armed forces from the US, Britain and France – had come following recommendation from the National Security Council. The deployment of military personnel was subsequently green-lit by the full Federal Cabinet, and the opposition Labor party was briefed.

The Australian Defence Force has been in the process of planning its missions for some time now, and it is believed the projected commencement date for the first strike is this coming Sunday.

Prime Minister Abbott was quick to state that it was not “strictly accurate” to suggest that this military engagement was a “war” given that the Government would operating in support of the Iraqi Government against a group of insurgents, stating as follows:

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 death cult.

Australian forces primary role would be to assist in and advise missions and to help aid Iraqi forces in planning and execution of ground-based operations, whilst the RAAF‘s fleet of Super Hornet fighters will join bombers from other countries to carry out air raids.

Prime Minister Abbott added the following:

When you are conducting combat operations, you can never guarantee that there will be no collateral damage. You just can’t. I can say though that the Australian armed forces never ever deliberately target civilians.

The military involvement in the region is expected to last months, if not years, at the bare minimum. The cost to the taxpayer is estimated to exceed $500million per year.

Photo: Peter Parks via Getty Images.

via SMH.