US-Led Coalition Targets IS Oil Fields

US-Led Coalition Targets IS Oil Fields

LONDON (AP) -- British Tornados struck oil fields that help finance the activities of the Islamic State group and Germany prepared to send reconnaissance aircraft to the Middle East as coalition forces stepped up efforts to fight the militants Thursday.

The strikes at the Omar oil field in eastern Syria came only hours after Britain's Parliament authorized military action in Syria against the Islamic State group, also known as Isil, Isis or Daesh. Though 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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin again accused Turkey of profiting from an oil trade with IS. "We know who in Turkey are filling their pockets and allow terrorists to earn money by selling oil stolen from Syria," he said in his annual state of the nation address.

Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan has denied the allegations.

Fallon confirmed that eight more jets were on their way to Britain's base in Cyprus to join attacks and warned that military action against Islamic State should be expected to continue not for months, but years.

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 actively engage in combat.

In all, up to 1,200 German soldiers would be deployed to support the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group. Two Tornados and a tanker could be sent to Turkey's Incirlik air base next week if Parliament approves the mission Friday as expected.

The bulk of German troops and planes likely won't arrive in the region until next month

France's government welcomed the first British airstrikes in Syria, saying they are a sign of the European solidarity promised after the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris.

In a statement Thursday, the president said the British vote to begin airstrikes in Syria — and an upcoming German vote Friday to take part in the operation — were a sign that Europeans would stand together after the Islamic State attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.

French fighter jets joined the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State extremists in Iraq in 2014, and expanded their mission to IS targets in Syria in September. President Francois Hollande cited specific threats against French interests stemming from the Islamic State group in Syria.

(KA)