UK air strikes against Isis: What we know and do not know

What we know

Six British Tornado G4 fighters are in Cyprus waiting to join an international military coalition targeting Isis with air strikes.

The UK warplanes will only target Isis in Iraq after MPs voted 524 to 43 to support military intervention there following a formal request from the country’s prime minister.

Britain will not extend its support to strike Isis in Syria, as other countries, including the US and several other Middle Eastern states, have so far done.

On Saturday we learned that two Tornado jets - armed with laser-guided bombs and missiles - are above Iraq, having taken off from Cyprus.

What we don't know

British planes have so far been restricted to humanitarian and reconnaissance missions, and it's unclear whether the two Tornado jets will actually be launching any strikes against Isis, although it seems likely.

"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," the Ministry of Defence said.

"For operational security reasons we will not be providing a running commentary on movements, but we are pleased with the response time achieved.

"We will provide an update on activity when it is appropriate to do so."

More significantly, we have no idea how long the strikes will go on for, or whether the mission could expand into Syria, or even see troops deployed on the ground in either country.

The defence secretary Michael Fallon, echoing colleagues in Washington, has warned it could take two to three years to defeat Isis militarily.

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