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Michael Fallon hails fighter-jet response in IS strike campaign

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has praised the speed at which Scottish-based RAF fighter jets were able to join the campaign against Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

He said he was "very impressed" with the operation which saw the Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth striking at key oil wellheads in eastern Syria by Friday night - the day after leaving their base in the north of Scotland.

Mr Fallon was speaking during a visit to the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, currently under construction in Rosyth, Fife.

He said it - and a second in-build carrier, HMS Prince of Wales - will ultimately help to keep Britain safer.

"We're seeing very heavy use of American and French aircraft carriers in the Gulf now in the battle against terrorism there," he said.

"In Iraq and the campaign in Syria, we've seen just how important aircraft carriers are, so these will fill a gap and help to keep us all safer."

On Wednesday, MPs at Westminster took the historic decision to extend military action to Syria despite thousands of people protesting in anti-war demonstrations.

Commenting on the operation so far, Mr Fallon said: "We're intensifying the campaign against Isil/Daesh in both Syria and Iraq following the vote in Parliament.

"We have doubled the strikeforce thanks to the Typhoons that flew down from Lossiemouth on Thursday. They've been engaged in action already on Friday night, patrolling over the skies of Iraq and Syria.

"We are stepping up the tempo of strikes, more than doubling the number of strikes we are able to carry out each night, hitting the oil wellheads - the revenue that Isil/Daesh depend on to finance their operations, not least their terrorist operations in western Europe. So, it's very important to cut off that financial support."

Mr Fallon has just returned from a visit to the British base in Cyprus, where he was able to meet the military personnel involved in tackling the terrorist threat in Syria and Iraq.

On the capability from RAF Lossiemouth, he said: "I've been very impressed with the speed at which the Typhoons were able to move from Scotland.

"They flew all the way down from Lossiemouth on Thursday. They were there late afternoon and they were joining the campaign by Friday night.

"That's a pretty impressive turnaround and they were striking on Friday night; striking decisively at some of the key oil wellheads in eastern Syria."

The Defence Secretary added: "It's very important Britain is there alongside our allies - France, striking there already, the United States for a while now.

"They've asked us for help, the United Nations asked all its members to come to the help of this particular campaign to stamp out the safe haven that the terrorists operate and to reduce the threat to us all. Britain is now a full member of that campaign."


From Belfast Telegraph