Syria air strikes: RAF jets in second wave of strikes

  • 5 December 2015
  • From the section UK
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Media captionThe Ministry of Defence has released footage of a second set of air strikes over Syria

RAF jets have carried out their second set of air strikes in Syria since MPs backed military action against so-called Islamic State in the country.

The Omar oil fields were targeted for the second time, using two Tornados and, for the first time, two Typhoons.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who is visiting the British base for the Syria mission in Cyprus, said: "Last night saw the full force of the RAF."

Four Tornado jets launched the first UK air strikes in Syria on Thursday.

Bombing began hours after MPs gave their backing for military action, with the oil fields, which are in eastern Syria, targeted.

During his visit to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, Mr Fallon thanked military personnel.

He made no assurances about the length of the campaign, telling them only it was "not going to be short or simple".

Media captionThe UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon MP thanks RAF crews in Cyprus

"We face a new kind of enemy that makes no demands, takes no hostages, doesn't want to negotiate," he said.

"It's not what we do that they oppose, it's what we are. It's because of who we are in Britain and the West that we have this particular death cult.

"You go now into this full-bodied mission with your orders and with your training. But I want you to know also you go with the backing of the government and the people of Britain."

Image caption Both sets of UK air strikes have targeted the Omar oil fields in eastern Syria

The Ministry of Defence said the Tornados and Typhoons used Paveway IV guided bombs to hit wellheads in the oil field on Friday night, "thus cutting off the terrorists' oil revenue at the very source".

Eight attacks were carried out, and early reports suggest that they were successful, an MoD statement added.

At the same time, an unmanned but armed RAF Reaper drone destroyed an IS truck bomb in northern Iraq.

'Nothing dramatic'

BBC World Service Middle East editor Sebastian Usher said the first two missions in Syria had targeted infrastructure, rather than moving targets.

"There's been nothing dramatic in the missions or targets so far, backing up David Cameron's warning that Britain's involvement in the battle against IS in Syria will require patience and persistence," he said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption RAF Typhoons flew over Syria for the first time during the mission

Six Typhoons flew to Cyprus on Thursday to join the operation against IS, which the government refers to as Daesh and is also referred to as Isis and Isil.

The MoD said the deployment of the Typhoons plus an extra two Tornados offered a significant increase in strike capacity to both the RAF and the wider coalition air campaign.

The RAF has been carrying out operations against IS in Iraq since last year.

To date, the US has conducted nearly all of the air strikes in Syria and Iraq, with France, Australia and Denmark also taking part.

Image caption Together for Syria allowed Syrians in the UK speak about the conflict in their country

Syria has been embroiled in a bloody armed conflict for nearly five years.

It started as a civil war between President Bashar al-Assad's government forces and opposition supporters, but jihadist group IS has moved into the country from Iraq and claimed territory.

Meanwhile, an event was held on Saturday at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, organised by Syrian and British-Syrian activists.

Together for Syria aimed to provide a Syrian perspective on the ongoing conflict. Its speakers included members of Scotland 4 Syria and the Syrian British Medical Society.

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