RAF flies another Syria mission as David Cameron insists war planes can help


The RAF has carried out another mission over Syria, as David Cameron insisted British war planes can help to bring about a political settlement in the civil war-torn country.

Rather than the bombing raid which immediately followed Wednesday's House of Commons vote authorising action in Syria, two RAF Tornado fighter jets flew an armed patrol over the east of the country "gathering intelligence on terrorist activity", the Ministry of Defence said.

And in a continuation of operations in Iraq, two Tornados "silenced" a "terrorist" sniper team with a "direct hit" from a Paveway IV guided bomb, it added.

More fighter jets have been sent to RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus ahead of further sorties in Syria and continued raids in Iraq against Islamic State (IS), which is also known as Isis, Isil and Daesh.

But the Free Syrian Army opposition group has claimed British intervention is "just a few more jets" over the course of a long campaign.

Bashar Assad's regime, meanwhile, has denounced the mission as "noise and propaganda", claiming that any country that does not co-ordinate its attacks with the government "won't win the fight against terrorism".

During a visit to Bulgaria, Mr Cameron said: "We've now got more Tornados and more Typhoons in Cyprus ready to take action both over the skies of Iraq and over the skies of Syria because we have to defeat Daesh wherever it is.

"Bringing everyone around the table and trying to get a political settlement is absolutely crucial but we can't wait for that to happen before we start taking action against Daesh, as we have after the vote and as we will continue to do."

He added: "The strikes actually help to bring about a political settlement because the strikes take the action to Daesh, which is everyone's enemy, and we do need to have a moderate opposition in Syria that can be part of the future government. So the political process and the action against Daesh to keep us safe at home go hand in hand."

The MoD said in a statement: "Overnight on December 3-4, Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri conducted missions over Syria and Iraq. Two GR4s flew an armed reconnaissance patrol over eastern Syria, gathering intelligence on terrorist activity.

"A second pair of GR4s patrolled over western Iraq, where they provided close air support to Iraqi forces engaged in combat with Daesh in and around Ramadi. A terrorist sniper team opened fire from a compound on Iraqi troops, but was silenced by a direct hit from a Paveway IV guided bomb."

Are More Air Strikes Exactly What ISIL Wants?