Iraq crisis: RAF Tornado jets return from first mission against Isis after MPs give go ahead to air strikes

Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on Saturday morning

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The Independent Online

British RAF jets armed with missiles have returned from their first mission over Iraq after Parliament voted to begin air strikes on Isis targets.

Two Tornado GR4 fighter bombers were seen returning to their base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus seven hours after they took off supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling aircraft.

The Ministry of Defence said the two jets carried out armed reconnaissance operations and that intelligence gathered would be "nvaluable". The aircraft did not carry out any air strikes.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

The jets were ready for attack should "an appropriate target" have been identified, according to the MoD.

The MoD said in a statement: "We can confirm that, following parliamentary approval given yesterday, RAF Tornados continue to fly over Iraq and are now ready to be used in an attack role as and when appropriate targets are identified.

"For operational security reasons we will not be providing a running commentary on movements; we will provide an update on activity when it is appropriate to do so."

Six Tornado jets have been based on Cyprus since last month but have so far been restricted to reconnaissance flights.

The RAF also has a Rivet Joint spy plane in the region which is stepping up surveillance efforts to identify potential targets, while intelligence will also be sought from Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground.

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fighter jets prepare to take off

The Commons voted by 524 to 43 to approve intervention in Iraq to counter the advance of Isis militants across swathes of the country.

The United States has been carrying out air strikes in northern Iraq since mid-August - supported by the French since last week.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned strikes alone may not be enough to roll back the threat posed by Isis, a group he described as a "bunch of psychopathic terrorists".

The six-and-a-half-hour emergency debate also prompted a heated argument over whether to intervene in Syria as well as Iraq, with several MPs suggesting military action there would be a logical move.