SAM MOOY

Australian fighter jet carries out first air strike in Syria

AUSTRALIA has dropped its first bombs on eastern Syria since joining the United States in air strikes against Islamic State over the Middle Eastern nation.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday the strikes happened on Monday.

He said an Australian Hornet fighter had destroyed an IS-linked armoured personnel carrier in eastern Syria with a precision guided missile.

The strikes came as the US Foreign Policy magazine reported on Wednesday that America might be considering training local rebels, potentially including Kurds, to help fight IS.

That unconfirmed report cited senior Obama Admin-istration officials as saying the US-trained troops would be embedded with rebel forces to help advise US forces on the locations of specific IS targets inside Syria.

There are no indications Australia would be directly involved in such operations.

If approved, it could mark a new US strategy after several US-trained fighters were caught by the al-Nusra Front in recent months.

Mr Andrews said Australian jets were already operating on "an almost daily basis".


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