UK jets target ISIL oilfield in their first air strikes on Syria

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British RAF Tornadoes struck an Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) oilfield inside Syria on Dec. 2 just hours after UK lawmakers authorized the action.

RAF Tornado at Akrotiri air base. /Getty Images
RAF Tornado at Akrotiri air base. /Getty Images

“Overnight, RAF Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager air refueling tanker and a Reaper, and operating in conjunction with other coalition aircraft, employed Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes against six targets within the extensive oilfield at Omar, 35 miles inside Syria’s eastern border with Iraq,” the British defense ministry said.

Late on Dec. 2, British parliament voted 397 to 223 in favor of air strikes on ISIL in Syria. UK lawmakers had rejected military intervention in Syria in a 2013 vote.

The defense ministry said four RAF Tornadoes were deployed from Akrotiri air base in Cyprus and struck the Omar oilfield, “one of the largest and most important to Daesh’s (ISIL’s) financial operations, and represents over 10 percent of their potential income from oil.”

The UK selected specific targets at the oilfield to ensure “the strikes will have a significant impact on Daesh’s ability to extract the oil to fund their terrorism.” the defense ministry said, adding that initial analysis indicated the strikes were successful.

The defense ministry also tweeted that the UK was doubling its strike force against ISIL by sending two additional Tornadoes and six Typhoon jets to Akrotiri.

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