RAF jets ‘shoot down Iranian drones bound for Israel’

RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, in a file picture
RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, in a file picture. British jets are reported to have taken off from the base - JULIAN SIMMONDS

British RAF jets were reported to have shot down Iranian drones bound for Israel on Saturday night.

It was reported that British jets took off from Cyprus in order to intercept drones and missiles launched from Iran.

Israel’s Channel 12 said that US and UK fighter jets shot down Iranian drones near the Syria-Iraq border.

When asked about the missile strikes, the Ministry of Defence did not comment.

The operation would mark a significant increase in the UK’s involvement in supporting Israel’s security in the region.

In recent months the UK has joined with the US in undertaking air strikes against Houthi militants in Yemen in a bid to “disrupt and degrade” the Iran-backed group’s capabilities.

The Houthis control much of north-western Yemen and have been attacking merchant vessels in the region since November.

US and British warships have also been deployed as part of an international task force to protect commercial shipping in the region.

But Saturday night’s operation also comes against the backdrop of increasing tensions between the UK and Israel over the latter’s military offensive in Gaza.

Earlier this month, an Israeli air strike killed seven air workers from the World Central Kitchen, including three British citizens.

The deaths led to calls in some quarters for the UK to stop arms sales to Israel. However, last week Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, confirmed that such sales would not be suspended.

Lord Cameron said that he reviewed the “most recent advice” about Israel’s conduct and “the latest assessment leaves our position on export licences unchanged”.

“Let me be clear, though, we continue to have grave concerns around the humanitarian access issue in Gaza, both for the period that was assessed and subsequently,” he said.

“So far, no like-minded countries have taken the decision to suspend existing arms export licences to Israel and I’d add that Israel remains a vital defensive security partner to the UK.”