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RAF's war on Isis will take time, says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon

By Gavin Cordon

Driving out Islamic State (IS) militants will not be a "weekend campaign", Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has warned, after the first combat sorties by RAF warplanes over Iraq failed to locate any suitable targets to strike.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the third mission carried out by Tornado GR4 fighter bombers since they were given the green light to start air strikes ended with them returning to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus with their weapons payloads intact.

Mr Fallon warned that such operations could continue for weeks or even months. "This is not a weekend campaign," said. "This is going to take a long time."

In the face of growing criticism from former senior military commanders, David Cameron insisted that there was a "comprehensive strategy" in place for defeating IS, which has seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The Prime Minister said he had "a lot of sympathy" for calls to extend British operations into Syria as well as Iraq, but had been constrained by the need to maintain a political consensus for UK military action.

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