Monday 19 March 2018

RAF jets scrambled to attack Isil in Syria an hour after vote

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron

Ryan Hooper

The operation to degrade Isil will require patience and persistence, British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned, as RAF warplanes mounted their first strikes against the extremists in their Syrian heartlands.

Within an hour of a Commons vote authorising military action, the first Tornado GR4 fighter bombers were in the air heading for an Isil-controlled oil field in eastern Syria.

Mr Cameron said that he welcomed the strong support across parliament with MPs from six different parties backing "this necessary action".

"We are going to need to be patient and persistent. This is going to take time. It is complex, it is difficult what we are asking our pilots to do, and our thoughts should be with them and their families."

"There will be strong support from our allies because they wanted us to join them in taking this action," Mr Cameron said.

"There will be very strong support from Muslim countries, Gulf countries, that have asked to us to take part in this action as part of a process that will help to deliver the political and diplomatic change that we need in Syria as well."

Four Tornados carrying Paveway IV guided bombs took part in the first raids overnight, targeting the extensive Omar oil field - close to the border with Iraq - which Isil uses to help finance its operations.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said that the jets - supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, an unmanned Reaper drone and other coalition aircraft - had attacked six targets.


"Carefully selected elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted, ensuring the strikes will have a significant impact on Daesh's ability to extract the oil to fund their terrorism," the statement said, using an Arabic name for Isil.

"By extending RAF offensive operations into Syria, our aircraft are now able to help dismantle the means by which Daesh plan, direct and sustain their campaign of terror.

"Before our aircrew conducted their attacks, as is normal they used the aircraft's advanced sensors to confirm that no civilians were in the proximity of the targets, who might be placed at risk. Our initial analysis of the operation indicates that the strikes were successful."

Irish Independent

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