UK begins airstrikes against IS in Syria

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Friday, December 4, 2015

The government of the United Kingdom has said Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers began airstrikes yesterday against Islamic State targets in Syria. The bombings follow British Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to support action against IS in Syria on Wednesday.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, from file.
Image: Chatham House.

RAF Tornado bombers based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus attacked oilfields in Syria which are controlled by and fund IS. UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the airstrikes were designed to deliver "a very real blow on the oil and revenue" of IS.

A Ministry of Defence statement said six "elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted" by the Tornados with support from other aircraft. It said sensors on the aircraft determined the targets were clear of non-combatants.

On Wednesday, MPs held a ten-hour debate on air strikes against IS, during which UK Prime Minister David Cameron urged them to support the action. They voted 397 to 223 to join the United States and France who are already bombing IS targets in Syria.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK's opposition Labour Party, voted against airstrikes, arguing the need for bombings "did not stack up". Mr Cameron also failed to get support from the Scottish National Party (SNP), almost all of whose MPs voted against taking action in Syria.

Following the airstrikes, Prime Minister Cameron said they had been "good for the country" and indicated "patience" would be needed in fighting IS. Mr Fallon said the UK are due to bomb more IS targets in Syria "in the next few days and weeks".

Six Typhoon warplanes along with an Airbus A400M carrying engineers, ground crew and supplies left RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland yesterday to travel to Cyprus. Two further Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk, England are to join the planes based in Cyprus.


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Ministry of Defence statement regarding airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria