Norfolk-based pilots praised for their role in air strikes

An RAF Tornado GR4 taxis on the runway at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, as it returns to the base after ca

An RAF Tornado GR4 taxis on the runway at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, as it returns to the base after carrying out some of the first British bombing runs over Syria. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 3, 2015. The air strikes were carried out within hours of a vote by MPs in the Commons to back extending operations against Islamic State (IS) from neighbouring Iraq. Four RAF Tornado jets, which carry a range of munitions including Paveway IV guided bombs and precision-guided Brimstone missiles, took off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus but defence officials refused to be drawn on the targets of their mission. See PA story POLITICS Syria. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire - Credit: PA

RAF crews, including those operating Norfolk-based Tornados, have been praised by foreign secretary Philip Hammond, as he described Islamic State's loss of the Iraqi city of Ramadi as a 'significant blow' to the extremists.

RAF air strikes aided the Iraqi forces' push to retake the city of Ramadi, the Ministry of Defence said after operations in the region continued at 'high intensity' during the festive period in the UK.

An RAF spokesman said armed reconnaissance missions by Tornados from RAF Marham, along with Typhoon jets and drones, had taken out targets including large groups of terrorists engaged with Iraqi government forces.

A number of successful strikes were also carried out near the city of Mosul and in support of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in close combat with Islamic State fighters.

Mr Hammond said: 'This is the latest in a series of significant losses for Daesh. These barbaric terrorists have lost 30pc of the territory they once held in Iraq. They have been driven out of cities across the country by Iraqi forces, with support from the UK and the global coalition. The Royal Air Force's close air support operations around Ramadi in recent days have played a key role.'