British jets stand ready to launch IS strikes in Syria, says RAF commander


British jets stand ready to launch strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria, a Royal Air Force commander has said.

Air Commodore Martin Sampson said the RAF Tornado jets under his command in Cyprus were ready to extend bombing runs into the war-torn country.

The Government is committed to holding a fresh Commons vote on the issue, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon saying there was an "inescapable logic" to extending the military action across the border from Iraq to target IS, also known as Isil.

Air Commodore Sampson told The Times: "We would be doing exactly the same job as we are doing in Iraq in a different piece of air space. The target is the same: Isil. We are very well versed in striking them ... and we would do exactly the same thing in Syria.

"The Tornado crews are ready to execute the mission wherever politicians deem it necessary."

The paper also quoted an unnamed squadron leader based in RAF Akrotiri, who said: "Being good military people, we have planned ahead ... we have trained. We know what the situation could be, is likely to be: therefore, if we get ordered to do it we will do it."

Air Commodore Sampson's intervention comes after a senior US commander said he would welcome UK involvement.

Lieutenant General CQ Brown told the BBC: "I would welcome anyone, any member of our coalition who would like to strike in Syria, including the UK."

David Cameron last week held talks with his German and French counterparts on efforts to seek a political solution to the civil war in Syria.

France is taking part in air strikes against the terror group in Syria, and the Prime Minister has indicated he hopes to secure parliamentary approval to do the same.