British jets launch air strikes in Libya: officials

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British Tornado jets have hit Libyan targets with cruise missiles on a long-range bombing mission, Britain's first air strikes in the military action, London defence officials said Sunday.

"I can now confirm that the RAF (Royal Air Force) has also launched Stormshadow missiles from a number of Tornado GR4 fast jets," said British military spokesman Major General John Lorimer.

The planes flew on a 3,000-mile (4,800-kilometre) round trip from RAF Marham, a base in eastern England, and back again during the mission, said the spokesman.

Defence Minister Liam Fox said the strikes were "the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict," in 1982.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman refused to give any details of the location of the targets.

A British submarine also fired Tomahawk cruise missiles in a joint attack with American forces on Saturday, defence officials said.

Britain has two frigates, HMS Westminster and HMS Cumberland, off the coast of Libya and Typhoon aircraft are standing by to provide support, Fox said.

"This action has provided a strong signal -- the international community will not stand by while the Libyan people suffer under the (Moamer) Kadhafi regime," said the minister.

Britain, the United States and France have launched attacks on Libya to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone and stop Kadhafi from crushing an uprising.

© 2011 AFP

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