Armed British warplanes flying 'daily' over Iraq29 september 2014, 14:05
Armed British warplanes are flying daily missions over Iraq and would launch air strikes if called in by local forces on the ground, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Sunday, AFP reports.
Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 combat jets have been flying from Britain's RAF Akrotiri sovereign base on Cyprus loaded with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.
"They are on active service now," Fallon told Sky News television.
"They are flying daily over the area where the fighting is and they are ready as part of the international force to be called in by the ground troops if they can help directly with some of the fighting."
He said British surveillance aircraft were providing "very sophisticated" intelligence and there was "nothing tokenistic" about the RAF's involvement.
British lawmakers on Friday voted overwhelmingly to join the US-led air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in northern Iraq following a formal request for help from the Iraqi government.
He said the aim was to help the Iraqi government push back IS, which he said "needs to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq".
Six British Tornados have been based on Cyprus since last month, from where they have been conducting reconnaissance missions, but now they are bomb-laden and their role can include striking IS targets.