LONDON — United Kingdom on Thursday began bombing Islamic State strongholds in Syria targeting the oil fields under its control, hours after a crucial parliamentary vote backed military airstrikes against the terror group.
Four Tornados took off from the Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, shortly after the House of Commons vote gave the go-ahead for UK to assist in the US-led bombing of Islamic State (IS).
The strikes targeted the Omar oil fields in eastern Syria, which is under IS control, UK defense secretary Michael Fallon said.
“I can confirm that British tornadoes were in action attacking oil fields in eastern Syria…and were successful,” he said.
Fallon had personally approved the targets ahead of the House of Commons vote on Wednesday, when MPs — by a vote of 397 against 223 — backed UK’s military action against IS in Syria after a 10-hour debate.
The first Typhoon jet fighters left RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, for Cyprus to join the airstrikes, an hour after the Commons vote.
Fallon said the UK Ministry of Defense would be assessing the damage done by the bombing later, but the aim was to strike “a very real blow on the oil and revenue on which Daesh (another name for IS) depends”.
The RAF has been carrying out operations against IS in Iraq since last year.
British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament yesterday that the UK will be a safer place if the country joins its allies in airstrikes on Syria.
“The question before the House is how we keep the British people safe from the threat posed by IS. This is not about whether we want to fight terrorism, it’s about how best we do that,” he told MPs during the House of Commons debate.
“We should answer the call from our allies. The action we propose is legal, it is necessary and it is the right thing to do to keep our country safe,” he said.
The Conservative Party leader was repeatedly asked to apologize by Opposition Labor MPs for comments he reportedly made to fellow Conservative MPs on Tuesday, asking them not to vote with “a bunch of terrorism sympathizers”.
Cameron refused to do so, saying, “I respect people who come to a different view from the government. I am not pretending that the answers are simple, the situation in Syria is incredibly complex”.
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn opposed the bombing but had given MPs a free vote amid divisions within his own ranks. PNA/PTI