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Aust welcomes move to boot IS from Raqqa

AAP logoAAP 7/11/2016 Max Blenkin, Defence Correspondent

Australia has welcomed the start of operations to oust Islamic State from its capital Raqqa in Syria.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told parliament Australia continued to play a critical role in both Iraq and Syria as a contributor to the international campaign to counter IS.

Operation Euphrates Rage, launched on Monday by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab groups, came at the start of the fourth week of operations to liberate Mosul in Iraq from IS control.

"By taking Mosul and Raqqa away from ISIS control, the false narrative of ISIL's self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate will be destroyed," Ms Bishop told parliament on Monday.

"However, like the operation to liberate Mosul, we know that seizing Raqqa will be difficult, dangerous and will take time."

Australian combat aircraft and personnel are conducting air operations against IS targets in eastern Syria, including in the vicinity of Raqqa.

They continue to conduct strikes around Mosul.

On the ground, Australian Special Forces are advising and assisting the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service spearheading the Mosul offensive.

Ms Bishop said Australia had also provided more than $500 million in humanitarian aid in both countries to assist those fleeing the fighting and the "horrors and depravity of IS".

Australia remained committed to the global effort to defeat IS and other terrorist organisations, she said.

"These are organisations that directly threaten our communities by radicalising and training potential terrorists from our country."

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