UK launches first air strikes in Syria against DAESH

British jets launch first air strikes against DAESH in Syria on Thursday, after UK Parliament votes in favour of extending air operations against terrorist group into Syria

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A Royal Air Force Tornado takes off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, December 2, 2015.

Updated Dec 3, 2015

British fighter jets launched their first air strikes against DAESH in war torn Syria on Thursday, after a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, following over 10 hours of discussions that resulted in 397 British lawmakers voting in favour of the strikes and 223 against.

Tornado bombers took off from the RAF Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus and undertook strikes on targets in Syria, a government source told Reuters. The jets are currently back at base.

UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon said the fighter jets bombed DAESH oil plants in Eastern Syria, "I approved yesterday a series of targets in the Omar oilfields, well heads... the Tornados were successful in striking those targets," Fallon told the BBC

Britain retains two sovereign military bases in Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri.

Witnesses in Cyprus told Reuters that they saw four British jets leaving in pairs from the air base within an hour of each other. All four had since returned.

RAF Akrotiri has been used as a launchpad for fighter jets taking part in the battle against DAESH for the past year. British warplanes have been targeting the terrorist group in Iraq, and now the scope of battle will be broadened to include Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron said that UK warplanes have been targeting DAESH in Iraq and should also bomb DAESH in Syria.

In the House of Commons of the British Parliament, Cameron stated last week that targeting terrorist camps in Syria and air strikes against DAESH would be in Britain's "national interest."

"The question is this: Do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat, and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?" he asked, calling for MPs to support military action.

"Britain is safer tonight because of the decision that the House of Commons has taken," Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told Sky News.

An anti-war protestor cries after the British parliament voted in favour of air strikes against militants in Syria, during a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 2, 2015.

‘Don’t bomb Syria’

Leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has accused Cameron of pushing Britain into a bloody war in Syria, voted against military action.

Thousands of protesters rallied in London on Tuesday to protest the proposed air strikes by Britain on DAESH targets in Syria.

Police stand guard as anti-war protestors demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 2, 2015.

"We're here to say one simple thing: 'Don't bomb Syria. Don't do what you did in 2001, 2003 and 2011,' " Lindsey German, of the Stop the War Coalition protest movement, told demonstrators, referring to the British military’s participation in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

"Don't go and bomb a country where we make the war even worse."

TRTWorld and agencies