UK Parliament approves air strikes on ISIL targets in Syria

LONDON(TIP): Britain has carried out its first airstrikes in Syria, hours after MPs voted overwhelmingly to authorize military action in Syria against ISIL. A British Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed Four RAF Tornado jets were seen taking off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus early on Thursday, December 3, morning and the Ministry of Defence later confirmed they had carried out the “first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes”.

The jets “employed Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes against six targets within the extensive oilfield at Omar, 35 miles (56km) inside Syria’s eastern border with Iraq,” the statement said. The strikes come just hours after UK Prime Minister David Cameron successfully passed a motion authorising strikes in Syria, with 397 MPs voting in favour, and 223 voting against. Cameron was backed by dozens of Labour MPs who broke ranks with leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is opposed to the military intervention.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, December 2, Cameron said high-precision, laser-guided Brimstone missiles attached to the Tornado GR4 bombers would help to make a real difference by hitting the ISIL capital of Raqqa and its oil-trading business. France and the US are already bombing the fighters in Syria, while Russia has bombed mainly other armed groups battling the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Cyprus, which lies about 100km away from Syria, is the closest European Union member state to turmoil in the Middle East. The RAF jets carry a range of munitions including Paveway IV guided bombs and precision-guided Brimstone missiles. The strikes were focused on six targets in an Isis-controlled oilfield in eastern Syria, the BBC reported. The British defence secretary, Michael Fallon, confirmed that eight more jets – two Tornados and six Typhoons – were being sent to Akrotiri to join the attacks. Fallon said the raids targeted the Omar oilfield in eastern Syria, dealing a “real blow” to the financing of Isis and confirmed that he personally approved the targets in the Omar oilfield.

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