Britain carries out first Syria airstrikes
Britain on Thursday carried out its first airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria, hours after members of parliament voted overwhelmingly to authorise military action.
Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado jets took off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus and the defence ministry later confirmed that they had carried out the “first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes.”
The strikes targeted the Omar oil fields in eastern Syria, which is under IS control, and were “successful”, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said.
He had personally approved the targets ahead of the Commons vote, he said.
Mr Fallon confirmed that eight more jets – two Tornados and six Typhoons – were being sent to Akrotiri to join the attacks.
On Wednesday, MPs voted by 397 votes to 223 for UK military action against IS – also known as Daesh – in Syria after a 10-hour Commons debate.
Mr Fallon said the Ministry of Defence would be assessing the damage done by the bombing later, but the aim was to strike “a very real blow on the oil and revenue on which Daesh depends”.
The four RAF jets carried a range of munitions including Paveway IV guided bombs and precision-guided Brimstone missiles.
The strikes focused on six targets in an oil field under IS control in eastern Syria.
The strikes came hours after members of the House of Commons late Wednesday night voted by 397 to 223 in favour of sending Tornado jets to seek out IS targets in Syria.
A total of 66 opposition Labour Party MPs voted in favour with the government.
The defence ministry is expected to give details of the targets later on Thursday.
The targeting of oil infrastructure is part of its strategy to deprive the extremists of their funding and revenue streams.
The RAF was already carrying out operations against IS in Iraq.