Tornado fighter jets from the British Royal Air Force completed their first air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) today. The military jets hit IS targets in Iraq for the first offensive blow dealt by the United Kingdom since approval for military action against the Islamic terrorist group was given by the government four days ago.
Taking off from the Akrotiri RAF base in Cyprus, two Tornado fighters flew into Iraq on an armed reconnaissance mission were tasked to assist a group of Kurdish troops who were under fire from IS militants in northwestern Iraq. According to the Ministry of Defense in London, the jets dropped a Paveway guided bomb, taking out an IS heavy weapon location, and then fired a Brimstone missile, destroying an armored pickup. The initial report indicated that both the targets were taken out by the strikes.
Thousands of sortie’s have been conducted by the coalition of U.S., European and Arab forces in the skies over Iraq and Syria since the beginning of the fight against IS started. However, the strikes against the Islamic State militants by the Royal Air Force marks the first offensive strikes for Britton since joining the fight.
The jets were taken off of their reconnaissance mission to aid Iraqi Kurdish troops to drive back IS from an important Syrian border crossing. The victory won the support of a major Sunni tribe in the area. The actions are already being called one of the biggest victories since the U.S. and allies began air strikes against the Islamic terrorists. The result is hoped to make it more difficult for IS to operate in the area covering parts of both Iraq and Syria. The battle was not just won by the inclusion of the Royal Air Force fighters, but also with assistance from another group of Kurdish fighters from Syria joining the battle.
The battle started before sunrise as the Iraqi Kurdish fighters captured the border crossing at Rabia. An intense battle began and it appeared that the IS militants would force the Iraqi fighters from the border crossing and open the route up to free the terrorist group a location to freely move back and forth between the two nations. The inclusion of the Sunni tribal fighters and the RAF Tornado’s tipped the scales back to the coalition and won the battle.
And with the Sunni fighters joining with the Iraqi Kurds may prove as an even more important victory than maintaining control of the border. The two different groups coming together to battle a common enemy is hoped to strengthen ties between the two tribes and two nations.
However, the battle may have been lost if it was not for the two Royal Air Force Tornado’s striking Islamic State targets in the battle zone, securing a victory for the coalition. While Britton only authorized the RAF to fly missions over Iraq, the campaign was expanded for the rest of the coalition to Syria last week, in hopes of dealing blows to the militants in a broader spectrum of where they are hiding and allow area forces from Syria and Iraq to recapture lands and towns lost to IS.
By Carl Auer