Video: We’re in it for the long haul, Cameron warns on Syria raids

THE operation to degrade Islamic State will require patience and persistence, David Cameron has warned, as RAF warplanes mounted their first strikes against the extremists in their Syrian heartlands.

Eurofighter Typhoon jets have taken off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland

Within an hour of Wednesday night’s Commons vote authorising military action, the first Tornado GR4 fighter bombers were in the air heading for an IS-controlled oil field in eastern Syria.

Mr Cameron said that he welcomed the strong support across Parliament with MPs from six different parties backing “this necessary action”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As one war rages over Syria, Labour is left to fight its own battles“We are going to need to be patient and persistent. This is going to take time. It is complex, it is difficult what we are asking our pilots to do, and our thoughts should be with them and their families,” he said.Two more Tornados and six Typhoons have been despatched to region from their bases in the UK, doubling the strike force at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus which has been spearheading the UK’s attacks on IS - also referred to as Isil, Isis or Daesh.“There will be strong support from our allies because they wanted us to join them in taking this action,” Mr Cameron said.“There will be very strong support from Muslim countries, Gulf countries, that have asked to us to take part in this action as part of a process that will help to deliver the political and diplomatic change that we need in Syria as well.”Four Tornados carrying Paveway IV guided bombs took part in the first raids overnight, targeting the extensive Omar oil field - close to the border with Iraq - which IS uses to help finance its operations.In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said that the jets - supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, an unmanned Reaper drone and other coalition aircraft - had attack six targets.“Carefully selected elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted, ensuring the strikes will have a significant impact on Daesh’s ability to extract the oil to fund their terrorism,” the statement said.“By extending RAF offensive operations into Syria, our aircraft are now able to help dismantle the means by which Daesh plan, direct and sustain their campaign of terror.“Before our aircrew conducted their attacks, as is normal they used the aircraft’s advanced sensors to confirm that no civilians were in the proximity of the targets, who might be placed at risk. Our initial analysis of the operation indicates that the strikes were successful.”Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the operation had struck a “very real blow” at the oil revenues on which the terrorists depended.“All four Tornados have now successfully returned and we will be assessing later this morning the actual damage done,” he told the BBC.The operation followed a tumultuous day at Westminster which saw MPs vote decisively to extend air strikes against IS - which had been confined to Iraq - into Syria.Sixty-six Labour MPs ignored pleas by their leader Jeremy Corbyn to oppose further military action and voted for air strikes helping to deliver a Government majority of 174.They included shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn who rallied support to strike the “fascists” of IS in a powerful closing speech which drew a rare round of applause from MPs on both sides of the House.Mr Fallon said the vote meant that Britain could finally play a full part in the US-led coalition attacking IS.“What was really important about the vote last night was that it confirmed that Britain is a serious ally,” he said.

Eurofighter Typhoon jets have taken off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland
Eurofighter Typhoon jets have taken off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland
Eurofighter Typhoon jets have taken off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland