British bombers make first air strikes on Syria after UK parliament vote

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British bombers made their first strikes on Syria on Thursday, just hours after Britain's parliament voted to target Islamic State targets in Syria, a government source said.

Tornado bombers took off from the RAF Akrotiri air base in Cyprus and made strikes on targets in Syria, the source said. The bombers are back at base.

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"A strike was made from over Syria," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The source declined to give further operational information about the targets or the number of aircraft involved, citing national security.

A Reuters witness in Cyprus saw four jets leaving in pairs from the air base within an hour of each other. Two have since returned.

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British bombers make first air strikes on Syria after UK parliament vote
FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. For a force that has built its reputation on projecting an aura of momentum and invincibility, the prolonged stalemate in Kobani is a setback for Islamic State militants with potential implications in terms of recruitment and support. Nearly two months after it launched its lightning assault on the small Kurdish town, the group is bogged down with an increasingly entrenched and costly battle in which hundreds of its fighters have been killed and a good deal of its military apparatus destroyed. (AP Photo, Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following an airstrike by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Armed people, believed to be Kurdish fighters, stand behind a wall, bottom center-left, as smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2014 file photo, smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. The mass beheadings of Egyptian Christians by militants in Libya linked to the Islamic State group have thrown a spotlight on the threat the extremists pose beyond their heartland in Syria and Iraq, where they have established a self-declared proto-state. Militants in several countries - including Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia - have pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)
A tractor drives on agricultural fields as smoke rises from an Islamic State group position in eastern Kobani, after an airstrike by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Two bombs, seen on top right, fall on an Islamic State fighters' position in the town of Kobani during airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from the outskirts of Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
This image made from gun-camera video taken on July 4, 2015 and released by United States Central Command shows an airstrike on a bridge near Islamic State group-held Raqqa, Syria, that was a key transit route for the militants. After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded. (U.S. Central Command via AP)
This image made from gun-camera video taken on July 4, 2015 and released by United States Central Command shows an airstrike on a main road and transit route near the Islamic State group-held Raqqa, Syria. After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded. (U.S. Central Command via AP)
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, people watch as smoke from a US-led airstrike rises over the outskirts of Tal Abyad, Syria, Monday, June 15, 2015. Thousands of Syrians cut through the border fence and crossed over into Turkey Sunday, fleeing intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and jihadis. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke from a US-led airstrike rises over the outskirts of Tal Abyad, Syria, Sunday, June 14, 2015. Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of a strategic Islamic State-held town on the Turkish border Sunday, Kurdish officials and an activist group said, potentially cutting off a key supply line for the extremists' nearby de facto capital. Taking Tal Abyad, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, would mean the group wouldn't have a direct route to bring in new foreign militants or supplies.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish soldiers guard the border area with Syria in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, as smoke from a fire caused by a US-led airstrike rises over the outskirts of Tal Abyad, Syria, Monday, June 15, 2015. A day after thousands of Syrians cut through the border fence and crossed over into Turkey, fleeing intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and Islamic State group, Turkish army retook control. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2014, file photo, thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rises in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. For four months, Syrian Kurdish fighters battled Islamic State militants in the rubble-strewn streets and crumpled buildings in the town of Kobani as U.S. aircraft pounded the extremists from the skies above. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
A bombs, seen top left, falls on an Islamic State position in eastern Kobani, during an airstrike by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Children run on a hillside as smoke rises from an Islamic State fighters position in the town of Kobani during airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from the outskirts of Suruc, near the Turkey-Syria border, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this photo taken Tuesday, March 10, 2015, members of a U.S. Air Force munitions team assemble guided bombs to support the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The base is the regional nerve center for the air war against the militants who have taken over nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. That makes it the main hub for coordinating warplanes from the U.S. and 11 other nations in the coalition carrying out bombing raids. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)
In this photo taken Monday, March 9, 2015, a B-1 bomber prepares to land after finishing a mission at the al-Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar. The base is the regional nerve center for the air war against the militants who have taken over nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. That makes it the main hub for coordinating warplanes from the U.S. and 11 other nations in the coalition carrying out bombing raids. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
A U.S. military officer looks out at the flight deck of the French navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Persian Gulf as the U.S. helicopter prepares for takeoff Thursday, March 19, 2015. The Charles de Gaulle, France's only aircraft carrier and the flagship of the French navy, arrived in the Persian Gulf last month to help provide additional air power to the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State militants who have seized a third of Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2014 file photo, an aircraft lands after missions targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq from the deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf. Combined U.S.-Arab airstrikes at the heart of the Islamic State group's military strongholds in Syria achieved their strategic aim of showing the extremists that their savage attacks will not go unanswered, the top American military officer said Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)
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RAF Akrotiri has been used as a launchpad for attacks on Islamic State targets in Iraq for just over a year, and late on Wednesday Britain's parliament broadened its scope for targets within Syria.

After more than 10 hours of tense debate, members of parliament voted in favour of the air strikes, by 397 to 223.

In addressing parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said high-precision, laser-guided Brimstone missiles attached to the Tornado GR4 bombers would help to make a real difference by hitting the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa and its oil-trading business.

France and the United States are already bombing Islamist militants in Syria, while Russia has bombed mainly other rebels, according to conflict monitors and Western officials, in an intervention launched on Sept. 30 to bolster its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The West says Assad must go.

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Cyprus, 100 km (60 miles) from Syria, is the closest European Union member state to turmoil in the Middle East.

In October, two boatloads of Middle Eastern migrants, including Syrian refugees, washed ashore at Akrotiri, a jutting peninsula on Cyprus's southern coast.

Britain, a former colonial power, retains two sovereign military bases in Cyprus.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas in Akrotri and Guy Faulconbridge in London; Editing by Sandra Maler, Robert Birsel)

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