UK

RAF Tornados in fresh air strike on Islamic State

A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence shows a Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR4 returning from an armed mission in Iraq Image copyright EPA
Image caption The jets used precision-guided bombs to attack IS fighters at a fortified building

RAF jets have launched a fresh air strike against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has said.

It said two Tornados used precision-guided bombs to attack IS fighters at a fortified building near Ramadi, west of the capital Baghdad, overnight.

IS forces inside the building were firing on Iraqi soldiers, the MoD said.

Meanwhile, ex-head of the armed forces, General Lord Richards, said air strikes alone may not be enough to defeat IS.

"Ultimately you have to seize and hold ground yourself to deny them the ability to operate - and only an army, or armies can do that," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One programme.

The UK is among more than 40 nations that have joined forces to challenge the extremist group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Countries including the US have taken part in air strikes against IS positions in Syria, but the UK military effort has so far been confined to Iraq.

The RAF strikes in Iraq come as a spokesman for Kurdish fighters, Idris Nassan, told the Guardian newspaper that the town of Kobane, in Syria, has been besieged "on three sides" by IS militants.

He said fighter jets "simply cannot hit each and every" fighter on the ground.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption RAF jets have been conducting daily flights over Iraq, amid fierce fighting near the Syrian-Turkish border

An official in Kobane, a key Syria-Turkey border town, warned it could fall to IS fighters shortly, as footage of the group's black flag being raised above a building on the eastern edge of the town emerged.

Turkish forces have been stationed on a hill close to the town, which has seen intense fighting over the past three days as Syrian Kurds try to defend the town.

'Slaughter of civilians'

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne met French Prime Minister Manuel Valls at Downing Street to discuss, among other things, the threat posed by IS, a No 10 spokesman said.

Downing Street said the leaders had agreed on the need to persuade Euro-MPs to adopt new rules to "enable countries to share more information on passengers travelling between European countries", saying it could be a "vital tool in tackling the threat posed by returning foreign fighters".

It comes after the UK Parliament voted to participate in air strikes against IS in Iraq after a seven-hour debate in the Commons last month.

Since then, jets have been conducting daily flights over the country from their base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, with the first air strikes carried out on 30 September - four days after the vote.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said the UK's priority is to stop the "slaughter of civilians" in Iraq, and that the UK and its allies would continue to be guided by Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence in identifying targets.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he could be prepared to support the extension of UK air strikes into Syria - if the situation on the ground becomes less "chaotic".

"Additional air strikes in Syria will only have limited effect unless we can make sure that the forces we're supporting in Syria really can make progress on the ground," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

On Friday, IS released a video purporting to show the beheading of Briton Alan Henning, who had been delivering aid in Syria when he was captured last year.

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