The US has officially requested Australia expand its air force presence over Syria, which could include bombing Islamic State terror targets.
The request was sent to the Australian embassy in the US capital on Thursday and included requests for enhanced intelligence gathering.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed it but said the government would not be rushed into a decision.
“I want to make it very clear that the consolidation of a terrorist state in eastern Syria and northern Iraq would be a catastrophe for the world,” he told reporters.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said similar, adding that the situation could develop next week.
“I don’t believe any decision has been made by the government and obviously we would be briefing the opposition,” he told the Nine Network.
Mr Pyne added a briefing was scheduled for early next week about “any developments that might occur there”.
The RAAF forces currently carries out airstrikes over Iraq, but not Syria. The US has for some time wanted Australia to cross the border, News Corp reported.
RAAF forces are based in the United Arab Emirates and there are also Australian troops training Iraqi government forces in the country.
There is still no request for Australian ground troops in Syria. The report said the main purpose of the expansion would be to chase IS terror fighters who flee Iraq.
Syria is considered by forces from the West as the “head of the Islamic State octopus” which seeks to expand its caliphate through the Middle East, it is reported.
Only America carry out air strikes in Syria. Britain is still considering whether it will move into Syria after the Tunisian terror shooting that killed 38 of its citizens.
Support for the operation in Iraq has been bipartisan, however Labor has called for lengthy cross party consultation to be had before any expansion is decided on.
Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan introduced calls for an RAAF expansion in an opinion piece for News Corp last week.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten expressed distaste at the way the issue came into public view, without briefing the Labor Party.
Tony Abbott has been a strong advocate for defeating the IS “death cult” in the past. His office stressed in a statement to News Corp on Thursday that national security policy must have bipartisan support.