Syria air strikes: RAF jets carry out second round of bombing against Isis ahead of Michael Fallon's visit to base

The Defence Secretary is visiting RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus today to meet servicemen and women

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Saturday 05 December 2015 11:28
RAF planes launch second round of strikes on Isis oil field in Syria

RAF jets have carried out their second round of air strikes on Isis targets in Syria since MPs voted to extend Britain's bombing campaign.

Oil fields controlled by the extremist group were targeted overnight, using two newly-deployed Typhoons and two Tornados.

The planes launched from their base in Cyprus to bomb the fields in Omar for a second time in an operation the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said aimed to “cut off the terrorists’ oil revenue at the very source”.

Britain's Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon speak to British Royal Air Force personnel in front of a Typhoon during a visit to RAF Akrotiri in southern Cyprus December 5, 2015.

“Eight attacks were carried out, and early reports suggest that they were successful,” a spokesperson added.

“Our aircraft then remained on patrol to collect intelligence on possible terrorist positions and be ready to strike any further targets that might be identified in eastern Syria or western Iraq.”

An RAF Reaper drone was also used for the first time to provide air support to Kurdish fighters battling Isis near Sinjar in north-west Iraq, where they have been re-claiming territory.

The drone used a Hellfire missile to destroy an Isis lorry laden with explosives in the area, the MoD said.

The RAF is also deploying Sentinel and Air Seeker planes on reconnaissance missions and using Hercules aircraft for transport.

The first operations in Syria were launched in the early hours of Thursday morning, when four planes hit the same oil fields in the east of the country.

David Cameron addresses the House of Commons during the debate over Syrian airstrikes.

It came immediately after MPs supported the Government’s proposals for intervention in Syria by 397 votes to 223 following a 10-hour debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said Isis derives “a huge part of its revenue” from oil sales, describing how Paveway guided bombs were being used to hit wellheads in an area where there was “simply infrastructure” and no civilians.

“The Prime Minister has been pretty clear that this is going to be a long campaign to ensure that Daesh are thrown out of Iraq and that they are degraded and degraded in eastern Syria,” Mr Fallon continued.

“This is not going to be quick but it wasn’t right to simply leave it to other air forces.”

Extra Typhoons have been sent from Scotland to the UK’s Cyprus base, RAF Akrotiri, to launch missions over Syria and boost Operation Shader in Iraq, where Britain is providing support to Iraqi forces at the government’s request.

Mr Fallon was visiting the base today, where he thanked 200 military personnel for their work but could make no assurances about the length of the campaign, telling them only that it would not be short.

“Last night saw the full force of the RAF,” he told the Press Association.

“Nobody likes strikes, nobody likes warfare, but when you're dealing with people who are not negotiating with you but simply want to kill as many Westerners or Brits as possible, then you have to use force.

”We are going to use force against them in the headquarters, their command and control, their logistics, but also in the infrastructure that supports them.

“We are going to do our very best to minimise civilian casualties.”

The Free Syrian Army opposition group has claimed British intervention is “just a few more jets” over the course of a long campaign they have been fighting against both regime forces and Islamists.

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