Australian Special Forces have been granted permission to aid the local troops and start their mission of driving the IS militants out of their stronghold in cities and towns.
According to several sources, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot will be announcing that the problem with the Iraqi government has been solved on Tuesday. This points towards the fact that the Australian troops are now free to “advise and assist” the Iraqis.
As the RAAF missions began, it was acknowledged by Minister of Defence David Johnston that the IS militants were accustomed to the air strikes. “I think that’s pretty certain that they will adapt very quickly not to be out in the open where the Iraqi security forces can call in an air strike,” he said.
Although the air strikes were made were less on fixed targets and more in favor and support of the Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the ground, Senator Johnston has said that this will be harder in the major strongholds of Islamic State like Fallujah, Tikrit and Ramadi. “I think it was always going to be … that the Iraqi security forces would have to step up and go into these towns and clean them out,” said Johnston.
Marshal Geoff Shepherd, the former Chief of Air Force has said that it would be prudent for the military to melt with the population. “At the start of their campaigns, they were massing as a military force … but they’re smart enough now to melt back into the population and it will be more difficult to contain them by air power alone.” However, he also warned that this would increase the causalities among civilians. “We’re not going to win this just by bombing. We’re going to win it by challenging their ideology and their view of the world, and every time we kill an innocent civilian … that drives people into the arms of jihadis.” Geoff was reported saying.
Idris Nassan, a senior spokesperson of Kurdish military also laid claim to the fact that the IS militants were adopting to the air strikes far better than what was expected of them. “Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat ISIS in Kobani,” said Nassan. “Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”
According to latest reports, 200 Australian Special Forces soldiers will be working in Iraq, assisting the local troops on the ground.