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Wednesday, December 2, 2015
RAF jets pictured taking off from Cyprus just hours after MPs vote to bomb ISIS
After MPs voted overwhelmingly to Bomb ISIS in Syria, British warplanes have taken to the skies.
GR4 Tornados carrying Paveway IV bombs and LITENING pod reconnaissance equipment took off from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus tonight.
The Ministry of Defence would not confirm that they were Syria-bound but it is believed the RAF were ready to react very quickly after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending the air campaign against ISIS.
Defence sources confirmed the two fighter bombers had headed for the Syria and Iraq region but said the warplanes were deployed as part of the “ongoing operation.”
Four jets left in pairs within about an hour of each other from the airbase.
Sky correspondent Jonathan Samuels said two jets returned "missing three Paveway bombs each".
RAF Akrotiri has been used as a launchpad for attacks on Islamic State targets in Iraq for just over a year
The MoD refused to say exactly where the two fighter bombers were headed for.
The RAF has been involved in operations against Islamic State in Iraq since September 2014, but today's vote has extended operations to Syria.
President Barack Obama today welcomed the vote to launch bombing raids.
“Since the beginning of the counter-ISIL campaign the United Kingdom has been one of our most valued partners in fighting ISIL,” Obama said in a statement, referring to Islamic State by an acronym.
“We look forward to having British forces flying with the Coalition over Syria, and will work to integrate them into our Coalition Air Tasking Orders as quickly as possible.”
Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond has said the case for strikes is “simple and specific” - to extend British action beyond the border that ISIS do not recognise.
He added that the military action is in the best interests of the UK.
Prime Minister David Cameron said high-precision, laser-guided Brimstone missiles attached to the Tornado GR4 bombers would help to make a real difference by hitting the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa and its oil-trading business.
France and the United States are already bombing Islamist militants in Syria, while Russia has bombed mainly other rebels, according to conflict monitors and Western officials, in an intervention launched on Sept. 30 to bolster its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The West says Assad must go.
Cyprus, which lies about 100 60 miles away from Syria, is the closest European Union member state to turmoil in the Middle East.