SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian Defence Force is planning to deploy two elite Special Operations Forces to Operation RED CROSS, a new military operation to take on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The operation, known as “Operation Red Circus” is to begin at the end of this month, and involve elite units from the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy, as well as the Australian Special Operations Command.
“The focus of the operation will be to establish a capability to take out ISIL targets in Iraq,” Australian Army Commander Brigadier General Richard Whitehurst said.
According to the ABC, the deployment is part of a larger U.S.-led strategy to defeat the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
Australia is sending 150 troops and a tank to the operation.
It is the first time the military is deploying elite units to a military operation in Iraq, where Islamic State has already captured significant territory.
Australian Special Operations forces have been in Iraq since 2014 and have conducted hundreds of airstrikes against the militants in Syria.
In May, a group of Australian troops were killed in an airstrike.
Earlier this month the Australian army announced the death of an Australian hostage held by the Islamic group.
ISIS has reportedly executed more than 1,000 people since the start of its campaign in 2015, including civilians and military personnel.
In the months since, the group has killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed the vast majority of its remaining infrastructure.
On Friday, the Australian government announced the deployment of a second special forces unit to the war zone, but did not specify where.
There are currently 2,200 Australians serving in the Australian military.