Royal Air Force combat aircraft stand ready to launch strikes against Islamic State in Syria, a Royal Air Force commander has said.
In August last year the United Kingdom started to deploy Tornado GR4 aircraft to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to help coordinate British humanitarian aid airdrops in Northern Iraq with their recon capabilities. On 16 August, following the suspension of humanitarian aid airdrops, these aircraft, along with an RC-135 Rivet Joint, were re-tasked to provide aerial surveillance to coalition forces. In early September, Prime Minister David Cameron began to voice his support for British airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq. On the 26th of September, Parliament was recalled and MP’s debated whether or not to authorise airstrikes in Iraq. This resulted in overwhelming support for airstrikes, with 524 votes in favour and 43 votes against.
When it comes to Syria, the Government lost a Commons vote two years ago to authorise air strikes against the forces of Syrian President Assad, the situation has however changed a great deal in the region since then.
Air Commodore Martin Sampson said:
“We would be doing exactly the same job as we are doing in Iraq in a different piece of air space. The target is the same: Islamic State. We are very well versed in striking them and we would do exactly the same thing in Syria.”
This comes as Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, confirmed he will withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the campaign against Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.
As part of his election campaign Mr Trudeau pledged to bring home the CF-18 fighter jets that were deployed to the region until March 2016. He has also said he would keep Canadian military trainers in northern Iraq, the AFP news agency reports.
Air Commodore Sampson’s intervention comes after a senior US commander said he would welcome UK involvement.