British Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus early on Thursday (3 December) shortly after Britain's parliament voted to bomb Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria. Four jets left in pairs within about an hour of each other from the airbase. Their exact destination was not immediately clear and there was no comment from British authorities, but later Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said he had approved targets in the Omar oil fields.
RAF Akrotiri has been used as a launchpad for attacks on IS targets in Iraq for just over a year, and late on Wednesday (2 December) Britain's parliament broadened its scope for targets within Syria. After more than 10 hours of tense debate, British lawmakers voted in favour of the air strikes, by 397 to 223.
In addressing parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said high-precision, laser-guided Brimstone missiles attached to the Tornado GR4 bombers would help to make a real difference by hitting the de facto IS capital of Raqqa and its oil-trading business.
France and the United States are already bombing Islamist militants in Syria, while Russia has bombed mainly other rebels, according to conflict monitors and Western officials, in an intervention launched on 30 September to bolster its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.