British Jets Pound Syria Following Parliament Vote
by VOA News December 02, 2015
British warplanes have begun carrying out airstrikes in Syria, just hours after lawmakers in London approved the expanded strategy to defeat the Islamic State group.
Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jets took off from a British air base in Cyprus, struck targets in Syria, and returned safely to the base, British defense officials said early Thursday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity did not provide any information about the targets of the strikes, or their effectiveness.
After 10 hours of debate, British lawmakers Wednesday approved (by a vote of 397-223) a request from Prime Minister David Cameron to take part in airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria.
Cameron appeared in parliament to make his case, saying the air strikes would be "part of a wider strategy" to overcome the militant movement.
Britain has been bombing in Iraq for more than a year and Cameron urged lawmakers to back extending air strikes to Syria to target militants he said are plotting attacks on the West.
President Barack Obama also welcomed the decision, saying Islamic State is a "global threat that must be defeated by a global response."
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also released a statement late Wednesday praising the British decision to extend airstrikes to Syria. He said the vote is "further evidence of the strength of our coalition, and the enduring importance of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom."
Carter also commended Germany for its support of the coalition. On Friday German lawmakers vote on a proposed commitment of up to 1,200 troops and additional support for the air campaign.
Prime Minister Cameron has long wanted to expand Britain's role in the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition. But public support for the move has been wavering, amid concerns the strikes could be ineffective and lead to a lengthy military entanglement.
The head of Britain's opposition Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, argued Cameron "failed to convince almost anyone"; that ground forces would be able to take back Islamic State-held territory if the British air strikes did manage to help the coalition gain the advantage over the militants.
A poll conducted by online research firm YouGov showed that British citizens' support for military action in Syria has fallen to the lowest level since September 2014, with 48 percent of respondents supporting strikes on Tuesday, compared to 59 percent last week.
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