Britain Launches Its First Airstrikes In Syria

| by Sheena Vasani
British Prime Minister David Cameron.British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The British Royal Air Force launched its first airstrikes in Syria on Dec. 3 as a part of a larger fight against ISIS expected to last for at least three years. 

So far British fighters have hit an ISIS sniper team in Iraq but nothing in Syria. On the same day, four Tornado GR4 jets were also sent to bomb the Omar oil field, the Daily Mail reported.

The oil field provides around 10 percent of the terrorist group's oil supplies.

The attack is a part of a larger strategy to defeat by ISIS partially by obstructing access to the oil that helps fund it.

"The Omar oil field is one of the largest and most important to [ISIS] financial operations, and represents over 10 percent of their potential income from oil," The British Ministry of Defense said. "Carefully selected elements of the oil field infrastructure were targeted, ensuring the strikes will have a significant impact on [ISIS] ability to extract the oil to fund their terrorism."

British Prime Minister David Cameron claimed Britain is now "safer" after the House of Commons voted 397 to 223 for extending military action in Syria the day before the strikes began, reports Daily Mail.

Some argue these strikes will make the situation worse.

The first western journalist to spend time with ISIS fighters and return safely, Juregen Todenhofer, claims military action is playing into the hands of the group. He claimed in an editorial opinion article in The Guardian that ISIS is determined to create an "imaginary apocalyptic" scenario in which Muslim armies fight against the rest of the world.

The Syrian refugee crisis in which Europe took in many Syrians gave ISIS a bad reputation among Muslims, he says, undermining its propaganda war. Western nations bombing Syria will help it once more win hearts and minds, Todenhofer believes.

As former ISIS hostage and journalist Nicolas Henin — who agrees with Todenhofer, and whose friends were murdered by ISIS — told The Guardian:

“At the moment, with the bombings, we are more likely pushing the people into the hands of ISIS. What we have to do, and this is really key, we have to engage the local people. As soon as the people have hope in the political solution, then Islamic State will just collapse. It will have no ground any more."

Sources: CNNDaily Mail, The Guardian (2) / Photo credit: Daily Mail