British fighter planes have been sent on their first combat mission over Iraq since parliament gave the green light for strikes against ISIL.
Two Tornado jets took off from their base in Cyprus ready to attack targets as soon as they were identified, said the Ministry of Defence.
After weeks of reconnaissance flights this was the first time UK planes had been sent for potential air strikes.
“We are one player of a large international coalition. The crucial part of that coalition is that it’s led by the Iraqi government, the legitimate government of Iraq, and its security forces. We are there to play our part and to help deal with this appalling terrorist organisation,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The British mandate does not extend to Syria.
There, Kurdish fighters are defending the strategic border town of Kobani where the jihadists continue to advance.
A monitoring group said air strikes against ISIL had taken place at Kobani and in several areas of eastern Syria, including military bases, killing many militants.
The US is leading a coalition of some Gulf and European nations to try to stop the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s rule of terror.
Until this week France was the only Western country to answer President Barack Obama’s call to join the campaign. Since Monday, Australia and the Netherlands have also joined. On Friday, Germany expressed support for the mission, although it will not send aircraft of its own.
Turkey has said its troops could be used to set up a secure border zone to protect refugees, if there’s an international agreement.