The RAF has already launched attacks on ISIS targets following parliament’s decision to back airstrikes.
British aircraft have already bombed ISIS-controlled oilfields in northern Syria, the government has confirmed, just hours after the House of Commons authorisedairstrikes in the region.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that four Tornado aircraft operating out of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus hit targets in an oilfield at Omar, close to Syria’s border with Iraq, in the early hours of Thursday morning. The raids aim to disrupt oil production, which is being used to fund ISIS.
MPs authorised the strikes by a margin of 397 to 223 late on Wednesday night, following a 10-hour debate in the House of Commons.
David Cameron has said the move would be part of a long-running campaign in the region: “It is complex and it is difficult what we are asking our pilots to do, and our thoughts should be with them and their families as they commence this important work.”
The government said Thursday that it had already hit key functions at the oilfield.
“The Omar oilfield is one of the largest and most important to Daesh’s financial operations, and represents over 10% of their potential income from oil,” the MoD claimed in a statement, using the government’s preferred name for ISIS. “Carefully selected elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted, ensuring the strikes will have a significant impact on Daesh’s ability to extract the oil to fund their terrorism.”
The MoD also said that RAF pilots used “the aircraft’s advanced sensors to confirm that no civilians were in the proximity of the targets” and said the initial analysis was that the strikes had been successful in their objectives.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon said eight additional British aircraft are now heading to join the bombing raids against ISIS.
“We have come to the aid of France, who requested us to help with our RAF planes, we have responded to the call from the United Nations on all members of the United Nations to do something to suppress this terrorism and eradicate the safe haven that Daesh has,” Fallon told the Today programme, claiming most raids would target ISIS infrastructure such as oilfields, roads, and supply routes.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had urged his MPs to vote against the airstrike plan, said that the decision would lead the to loss of innocent lives.
“British service men and women will now be in harm’s way and the loss of innocent lives is sadly almost inevitable,” he said, criticising the prime minister’s “rush to war”.
Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary whose speech in favour of airstrikeshelped rally 66 Labour MPs to support military intervention, said his only comment would be in support of the British service members in the region.