On 18 January,US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and the new Australian Prime Minister,Malcolm Turnbull,laid a wreath together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery,Virginia.Later,the two leaders held defence cooperation talks at the Pentagon.Joining them were Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Australian Minister of Defence Marise Payne.They discussed recent developments in Iraq and Syria and the need to continue the close collaboration on the security issues in the Asia Pacific Region,the Pentagon said.Mr.Carter expressed appreciation for Australia's contributions to the anti-ISIL Operation Inherent Resolve coalition and their continued support in Afghanistan.He also said he looked forward to Australia's participation in the meeting of several OIR defence ministers in Paris on 20 January.
Besides Mr.Carter and Ms. Payne,those attending the Paris meeting will be defence ministers from Germany;France;the UK;the Netherlands; and Italy.Canada's defence minister,Harjit Sajjan,was not invited.Canada is pulling its CF-18 fighter jets out of OIR in accordance with a campaign promise made by the new Prime Minister,Justin Trudeau.A spokesman for Mr.Sajjan denied that was the reason Canada wasn't invited,saying they have often not been included in past meetings.*
On 19 January,the latest report on the OIR air campaign was issued.In Syria,attack and fighter aircraft conducted three airstrikes:
near Ayn Isa,2 sorties struck separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed a fighting position;
near Hasakah,a sortie destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
In Iraq,21 airstrikes were conducted,among them being:
near Mosul,5 sorties struck an ISIL tactical unit and headquarters and destroyed a heavy machine gun,4 fighting positions and a cash collection point;
near Ramadi,9 sorties struck an ISIL tactical unit,damaged a petroleum truck and lubrication tank,and destroyed 2 fighting positions,a sniper position,a tactical vehicle and a tunnel entrance.
Those participating in the Syria raids were Australia;Bahrain;Belgium;Canada;France;Jordan;Saudi Arabia;Turkey;the UAE;the UK;and the US.Those taking part in the Iraq raids included Australia;Belgium;Canada;Denmark;France;Jordan;the Netherlands;the UK;and the US.*
In Iraq,Australian and New Zealand troops continued training the Iraqi Army to better combat Daesh,the Arab term for ISIL,at the Taji Military Complex.