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Britain goes to war: RAF Tornado jets set off to bomb Isis in Iraq

Jets armed with missiles took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on Saturday morning

British RAF jets armed with missiles are on their first mission over Iraq after Parliament voted to begin air strikes on Isis targets.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that the Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

Two Tornado GR4 bombers supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling aircraft took off from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus at 8.30am BST.

The jets are ready for attack should "an appropriate target" be identified, according to the MoD. It is not known when they will return.

The MoD said in a statement: "We can confirm that, following parliamentary approval given yesterday, RAF Tornados continue to fly over Iraq and are now ready to be used in an attack role as and when appropriate targets are identified.

"For operational security reasons we will not be providing a running commentary on movements; we will provide an update on activity when it is appropriate to do so."

Six Tornado jets have been based on Cyprus since last month but have so far been restricted to reconnaissance flights.

The RAF also has a Rivet Joint spy plane in the region which is stepping up surveillance efforts to identify potential targets, while intelligence will also be sought from Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground.

The Commons voted by 524 to 43 to approve intervention in Iraq to counter the advance of Isis militants across swathes of the country.

The United States has been carrying out air strikes in northern Iraq since mid-August - supported by the French since last week.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned strikes alone may not be enough to roll back the threat posed by Isis, a group he described as a "bunch of psychopathic terrorists".

The six-and-a-half-hour emergency debate also prompted a heated argument over whether to intervene in Syria as well as Iraq, with several MPs suggesting military action there would be a logical move.

Further reading:

Coalition in new Syria air strikes

Fears of civilian deaths why SDLP voted against Iraq airstrikes: Mark Durkan  

Man in court on anti-terror charges 

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