Britain releases images of strikes against ISIS
British fighter planes on Tuesday launched their first airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positions in Iraq, targeting a weapon position and armed truck, the UK’s defense ministry said.
“Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft have been in action over Iraq today in the fight against ISIL,” the ministry said in a statement.
“This action is part of the international coalition’s operations to support the democratic Iraqi government,” the statement added.
The air strikes came “in the course of an armed reconnaissance mission” during which two Tornado jets tasked to assist Kurdish forces under attack from ISIS militants.
“An initial assessment indicates that both precision strikes were successful,” the statement said.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “halting the advance of ISIL and helping the Iraqi government turn it back, and helping the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces to do that, is a huge task and is going to be a long campaign.”
“But the RAF have been flying day and night since Parliament gave that authority last Friday and they have been flying important missions, gathering intelligence, deterrents against ISIL terrorism, driving them back from the villages, as well as being there in close support when they are tasked to go down and help, in particular fighting, and that’s now what they’ve done today,” Fallon added.
The British parliament last week approved a motion to join in a U.S.-led military campaign against IS jihadists who have seized huge swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.
The government has said it will not send combat troops on the ground or join air strikes in Syria without further parliamentary approval.
British foreign minister Philip Hammond earlier on Tuesday said UK forces would not be “panicked” into dropping bombs in Iraq.
“When we do release our weapons we have to be absolutely sure that they are against ISIL targets, that they are not going to kill innocent Sunni Muslim civilians in areas that are occupied by ISIL,” he told the BBC.
“Otherwise we are having the opposite of the effect we are intending to have,” he said.
Asked about France joining the US-led coalition before Britain did, he said: “There is nobody who knows anything about air power who is suggesting that the French air force is a more formidable force than the RAF.”
France has already carried out two rounds of air strikes.