Britain’s Typhoon warplanes and Tornado jets – taking off from a base in Cyprus – have now conducted two rounds of air strikes in Syria against ISIL and its lucrative oil installations.
Visiting the fighter pilots conducting the raids, the UK defence minister said on Saturday that the aim was to hit the Islamist militant group’s command and control, to smash its supply lines and cut off sources of its revenue.
“It is oil that underpins the terrorism that we have seen and helps ISIL-Daesh finance their terrorist operations,” Michael Fallon told air crews at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
The UK knows it could be next on ISIL’s terror hit-list after last month’s attacks on close neighbour France.
Already bombing the militants in Iraq, Britain joined the US-led mission in Syria after a vote in parliament on Wednesday.
The UK’s air strikes are unlikely to change the military balance but the vote handed Prime Minister David Cameron the chance to show Britain’s willingness to add to a Western consensus for taking the battle to militants in Syria.
France and the United States are already bombing ISIL there, while Russia has bombed mainly other rebels, according to conflict monitors and Western officials, in an intervention launched on September 30 to bolster its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The West says Assad must go.