Australian forces had stepped up their missions against Islamic State in Iraq to allow other forces to operate more heavily in Syria.

Australian forces have killed Islamic State militants and destroyed their facilities on at least two bombing raids in Iraq.

Australia’s work combating IS (also known as ISIL) in Iraq has allowed others in the US-led coalition to step up efforts in Syria.

The coalition of more than 60 nations is stemming the spread of IS across Iraq and Syria.

Australian Super Hornet fighter jets have so far made 43 flights over Iraq, including at least two bombing raids that killed IS extremists and destroyed facilities.

“We have been flying more missions that we ordinarily would so that the US and other coalition partners in particular can support particularly Kobane (in Syria),” Chief of Joint Operation Vice Admiral David Johnston told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“Earlier this week we had two pairs of Super Hornets attacked an ISIL military equipment and facilities in northern Iraq, also using their 500 pound bombs.

“Our indications from that attack is they were also successful.”

Australia only has legal clearances to operate in Iraq and the government has said there are no plans to go into Syria.

However, others in the US-led coalition have stepped up efforts in Syria, particularly around the town of Kobane.

Vice Admiral Johnston said it was clear IS was very determined to take the town they had under siege.

“The outcome in Kobane is uncertain … but ISIL are expending a lot of forces in trying to achieve this objective which is attriting what they have available to them,” he said.

In Iraq, coalition air strikes have degraded Islamic State’s capabilities and their capacity to move around and mass forces.

They’ve also been targeting the group’s ways of making money, including a mobile oil refinery.

“It is about undermining confidence, undermining their revenue streams and having a much broader impact,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

Australian forces have destroyed IS military equipment and facilities in Iraq and killed a number of extremist fighters.

Defence will not give exact details on how many missions have involved bombing targets or how many militants were killed for fear of feeding the “aggressive propaganda campaign” of IS.

Australia’s special forces continue to be on standby for deployment in Iraq once the legal permissions for them are finalised between governments.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said they were ready to go and the Australian government was just awaiting final legal clearances.

Defence continues to say that clearance is expected within days, but notes Iraq is yet to appoint a defence minister.


* 39 Super Hornet flights totalling 276 hours

* at least two raids dropping 500-pound bombs

* 14 refuelling missions flown by KC30, providing more than 1 million pounds of fuel

* 11 Wedgetail reconnaissance missions totalling 126 hours

* note – four more Super Hornet flights overnight on Friday