RAF jets leave Norfolk bound for Iraq missions
PUBLISHED: 15:57 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:57 12 August 2014
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RAF Tornado jets have left their Norfolk base to fly to Cyprus, from where they are due to help with efforts to deliver aid to refugees who have fled jihadists in northern Iraq.
Three aircraft took off from RAF Marham shortly after 2pm. They have been sent to the Mediterranean to assist with attempts to drop supplies to thousands of members of the Yazidi sect who have been trapped on the Sinjar mountains, while fleeing jihadists.
The aircraft are due to carry out surveillance ahead of airdrops, to identify safe areas where supplies can be dropped.
The Yazidi civilians, along with Iraqi Christians, have been targeted by fighters representing the so-called Islamic State, which has seized territory across Iraq and Syria in recent months. Their advances have been followed by continuing reports of the slaughter of religious minority groups.
The Tornados have been equipped with reconnaissance pods, which will be used to carry out surveillance to help the RAF C-130 Hercules cargo planes target where humanitarian supplies should be dropped.
RAF cargo planes have already been operating in the area. They dropped a further two consignments of aid on Monday night, including 3,180 reusable water purification containers containing a total of 15,900 litres of clean water, and 816 solar lamps that can also be used to charge mobile phones.
An earlier drop took place on Saturday, delivering 1,200 water containers and 240 solar lanterns. A further drop planned for Sunday night had to be abandoned because of fears that people could be injured by the cargo.
The Tornados will be based at RAF Akrotiri, in Cyprus.
The MoD has not said how many jets are taking part in the mission, the BBC have reported that it was likely to be between six and eight Tornados.