Australian soldiers may be joining a “broad coalition” of US allies being mobilised for military action in Syria and expanded air strikes in Iraq, says a New York Times report.
Quoting US government officials, the report named Australia as one of the countries “likely” to be included, along with Britain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The officials said Australia and Britain were expected to join an air campaign in Iraq as President Obama stepped up the campaign against the Islamic State (IS).
The Times report appeared to confirm reports earlier this week that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was actively considering a greater military role in Iraq, potentially joining in air strikes.
“We are talking to our partners about how we might contribute to international efforts to protect people against the advances of the ISIS terrorists,” Mr Abbott said.
The US president is believed to be close to ordering airstrikes against Sunni militants and airdrops of humanitarian aid in northern Iraqi.
The New York Times said US surveillance aircraft began flying missions over Syria early this week to gather information on potential targets.
On Monday, The Australian reported that Canberra was involved in discussions with the US and other allies over possible air strikes in Iraq.