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RAF jets in first Iraq action

RAF jets in first Iraq action

RAF jets have dropped their first bombs on Iraq since MPs voted for action to tackle Islamic State militants in the country.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said jets had been deployed in north west Iraq "in support of the Iraqi government".

He said: "Two GR4 Tornadoes from RAF Akrotiri were tasked to assist Kurdish troops who were under attack by Isil terrorists.

"They identified and attacked a heavy weapon position that was endangering Kurdish forces and they subsequently attacked an Isil armed pickup truck in the same area.

"Both Tornadoes have now returned safely to their base and the initial assessment is that both attacks were successful."

MPs on Friday backed action to tackle Islamic State militants in Iraq by 524 to 43 votes, following a mammoth six-hour debate.

Mr Fallon said the RAF had been "flying day and night" since the vote, and reiterated his view that British forces would be involved in a lengthy struggle against Islamic State militants.

"Halting the advance of Isil and helping the Iraqi government turn it back and helping the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces to do that is a huge task and is going to be a long campaign," he said.

"But the RAF have been flying day and night since Parliament gave that authority last Friday and they have been flying important missions, gathering intelligence, deterrence against Isil terrorism, driving them back from the villages, as well as being there in close support when they are tasked to go down and help in particular fighting."

The confirmation of action came as the wife of Alan Henning, the UK aid worker held by Islamic State militants, issued a fresh plea for his release.

In her first televised message since his capture in Syria in December, Barbara Henning said: "Muslims across the globe continue to question Islamic State over Alan's fate."

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