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Two British fighter jets flew over Iraq on Saturday, their first mission since parliament authorized strikes against Islamic State militants there, Britain's Ministry of Defence said. Two Tornado jets left the British Royal Air Force's Akrotiri base in Cyprus at 3:25 a.m. ET and returned more than seven hours later, a Reuters witness said. It was not immediately clear if they had carried out any strikes.
"We can confirm that ... Royal Air Force Tornados continue to fly over Iraq and are now ready to be used in an attack role as and when appropriate targets are identified," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said after the take off. Saturday's sortie was the first time British aircraft have flown over Iraq in an armed role since ISIS militants swept across large areas of the north of the country in June and declared a caliphate including land already seized in neighboring Syria. The British aircraft joined a U.S.-led military coalition supported by some Gulf and European nations against the militant group.
Six Tornado jets, normally based at RAF Marham in England, have been based on the east Mediterranean island since August. They have been engaged in intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance over Iraq for the past six weeks. Britain retains two military bases on Cyprus, a colony until independence in 1960.
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