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British jets strike Syria

RAF jets have struck Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria for the second time, following the House of Commons vote approving military action

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RAF jets have struck Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria for the second time, following the House of Commons vote approving military action. The Ministry of Defence released the following video footage, showing strikes on the Omar oil fields performed by two Typhoon and two Tornado jets.

The Government motion for military action was passed by 397 to 223 votes on the night the 3rd of December. 66 Labour MPs voted in favour of the motion, including 11 members of the shadow cabinet. 7 Conservative MPs abstained, and 7 others voted against action.

The vote follows a UN resolution, calling for all member states with the capability to take "all necessary measures" to prevent and suppress the actions of Islamic State on territory under its control. UK military assistance in Syria was also formally requested by the French government after the IS-sponsored attacks in Paris killed 130.

An RAF Typhoon of the type now deployed over Syria. Image: USAF
An RAF Typhoon jet of the type now deployed over Syria. Image: USAF

The first RAF jets took off from Cyprus not two hours after the vote on Wednesday, using Paveway bombs, which are normally deployed against static targets.

British aircraft, previously limited to Iraqi airspace, will be joining a coalition that includes the United States, France, Australia and Denmark.

The German parliament has also voted to provide military assistance against IS, and has agreed to send Tornado jets in a non-combat, intelligence-gathering role. 1650 soldiers are also to be sent to the region, again in a noncombat role, in order to provide assistance.

Syrian airspace is increasingly crowded, with Russian aircraft and Syrian jets attacking all rebel groups that oppose the Syrian government. British jets were reported to be flying with anti-air missiles after Russia sent forces to aid the government of Bashar Al-Assad. The move provoked official Russian anger, as it was seen as a direct response to Russia's aircraft.

A Russian jet was recently shot down by Turkish forces, after reportedly violating Turkish airspace. One pilot was killed by ground fire from a Turkmeni rebel brigade, while a Russian marine was killed in the rescue operation that followed, when rebels forced down and destroyed a Russian helicopter.

A war of words has followed the incident, with Russia placing economic sanctions on Turkey. A long-awaited pipeline for natural gas has been put on hold, likely for several years, and food shipments have been halted. There seems to be little appetite to escalate the reaction beyond the purely economic (Turkey is a NATO member), though the Kremlin has expressed serious anger.

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