RAF conduct first air strikes in Syria
Royal Air Force Tornado aircraft, as part of operations against Daesh, have flown their first missions over Syria.
Last night parliament granted approval for the UK to extend their airstrikes to include Syria, as well as Iraq, as part of counter-Daesh coalition operations. Within hours, Royal Air Force Tornados flew their first offensive operation on terrorist targets inside Syria.
Supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker and a Reaper, and operating in conjunction with other coalition aircraft, the Tornados employed Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes against six targets on an oilfield at Omar – one of the largest and most important oilfields to Daesh’s financial operations, representing over 10% of their potential income.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
We have come to the aid of France and responded to the call of the United Nations. This will take time but I am very pleased that a clear and decisive majority was attained to target the group, which is a menace to us here in the UK.
The terrorists depend for their revenue on the control of oil. Cutting off their finances is extremely important to degrading the terrorists, to undermining their campaign in Iraq, and to shrink their operations in eastern Syria. It is there that these terrorist attacks are being planned.
The UK has played a crucial role in tackling Daesh to date but strike operations have been restricted to Iraq. Britain has trained more than 2,000 troops, contributed a third of surveillance flights to the Coalition and have conducted more than 380 strikes on targets in Iraq. Yesterday’s vote means that the RAF can now begin attacking the Daesh headquarters and their finances and supply routes in Syria.
Britain has been asked by Coalition partners to join operations in Syria as the UK can provide high precision weapons which minimise the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage.
Tornado pilot and station commander at RAF Marham, Group Captain Richard Davies said:
In the hundreds of air strikes that the RAF has carried out in Iraq, we have had absolutely no civilian casualties reported. The rules of engagement that our crews apply both in the air and by commanders on the ground mean that I am absolutely confident that that will continue to be the case with operations in Syria.