LONDON – British Tornado jets struck oil fields in eastern Syria on Thursday that help finance the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Germany prepared to send reconnaissance aircraft to the Middle East as coalition forces stepped up efforts to fight the militants.
The strikes at the Omar oil field came only hours after Britain’s Parliament authorized military action in Syria against ISIL. Although several of the oil fields have already been hit by the U.S.-led coalition, Britain chose a target with low risk of collateral damage for its first strike in Syria.
“This strikes a very real blow at the oil and the revenue on which the Daesh terrorists depend,” Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC, using the Arab acronym for ISIL. The Ministry of Defense described the airstrikes as successful. Fallon confirmed that eight more jets were on their way to Britain’s base in Cyprus to join the attacks and warned that military action against ISIL could continue for years, not months.
Other allies also moved to get equipment into place as the buildup gained momentum. Germany’s government said it planned to send up to six Tornado reconnaissance planes, tanker aircraft and a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean, but won’t engage in combat.
In all, up to 1,200 German soldiers would be deployed to support the international coalition fighting ISIL. Two Tornados and a tanker could be sent to Turkey’s Incirlik air base next week if the German Parliament approves the mission Friday as expected.
The bulk of German troops and planes likely won’t arrive in the region until next month.