Australian combat aircraft could conduct their first missions to bomb Islamic State forces inside a week.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says there's no reason why Australian air strikes into Syria couldn't take place within days.
Announcing the long-expected decision to extend RAAF combat operations to include Syria as well as Iraq, he said there could be no stability and no end to the persecution and suffering in the Middle East until the Daesh death cult was degraded and ultimately destroyed.
Defence force chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said they were looking for operations into Syria to start within the week.
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"It depends on the tasking cycle and what targets may come up in the particular areas at the time," he said.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said this extension of RAAF missions was a practical and logical extension of current operations over Iraq.
"It is quite clearly in Australia's national interest because, as we know, Daesh continues to provide a security threat, not just to Iraq and those regions of Syria in the Middle East, but it reaches out here to Australia," he said.