Tornados leave RAF Marham for Cyprus as Britain completes first Syria 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. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Tornado jets have taken off from RAF Marham this morning to provide extra support as Britain begins bombing against Isis in Syria.

Two jets left RAF Marham at around 8.30am and are on their way to bolster the current eight RAF Marham Tornados in Cyprus. Six Typhoons are also due at RAF Akrotiri.

Earlier, Tornado jets carrying a range of munitions including Paveway IV guided bombs and precision-guided Brimstone missiles took off from the Cyprus base and reportedly targeted an oil field in eastern Syria.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the sorties had returned from the 'first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes'.

One RAF commander said he was 'absolutely confident' that there will be no civilian casualties.

As the first British aircraft were sent within hours of MPs voting to back the strikes, Group Captain Richard Davies, of RAF Marham, told the BBC: 'In over 400 air strikes that the RAF has carried out in Iraq, we have had absolutely no civilian casualties reported.

'The rules of engagement that our crews apply both in the air and by the commanders on the ground mean that I am absolutely confident that that will continue to be the case with operations in Syria.'

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Tornado fighter bombers have been attacking IS targets in Iraq since September last year when MPs gave the green light for air strikes.

Group Capt Davies's comments follow a warning by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the lead-up to last night's vote that the move would 'almost inevitably lead to the deaths of innocents'.

The RAF Marham squadron bombing Iraq and now Syria was almost disbanded last year.

MPs' backing

Prime Minister David Cameron has said MPs took the 'right decision to keep the UK safe' after they overwhelmingly backed air strikes on Wednesday night.

MPs voted by 397 to 223 in favour of extending British action to quash IS, also known as Isis, Isil and Daesh, from Iraq into its Syrian strongholds - a majority of 174.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis (Lab) and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb (Lib) were the only two Norfolk MPs to vote against bombing.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was lauded by MPs from across the House for making a powerful speech warning his party that 'we never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road'.

He was among 66 Labour MPs who voted with the Government while seven Conservatives opposed the plans for military action.

Mr Cameron said: 'I believe the House has taken the right decision to keep the UK safe - military action in Syria as one part of a broader strategy.'

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain was 'safer' following the decision to back air strikes.