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RAF aims to cut Islamic State jihadis off from foreign help with campaign of airstrikes

UK participation in Syria likely to focus on the so-called ‘Manbij pocket’ along the frontier with Turkey where the US is planning intense air strikes

British jets reach Iraq as al-Qaeda-linked group threatens attack...epa04421798 A handout image made available by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 28 September 2014 shows a RAF Tornado GR4 in flight over an unspecified territory, on 27 September 2014. Two Tornado GR4 bombers supported by an air-to-air refuelling aircraft took off at 0730 GMT 27 September from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. On 26 September, British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining the US-led aerial campaign in Iraq, where the Islamic State has seized large chunks of territory since June.  EPA/NEIL BRYDEN/MOD/ HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: CROWN COPYRIGHT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

By Andrew Gilligan

The Royal Air Force will join an offensive to seal off Isil’s last international border and block foreign fighters from travelling to and from the group’s territory.
The US is planning intense air strikes against the “Manbij pocket”, a 60-mile stretch of Isil-controlled Syria along the frontier with Turkey. On its western flank, the so-called ‘Marea line’, the pocket is under attack by Western-backed Syrian rebel troops. To its east is territory around the town of Kobane, recaptured by Kurdish forces in June.

Denying Isil its only stretch of border will make it significantly harder for young Britons and other westerners to reach the terror group’s so-called state. It will also obstruct terrorists such as Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the leader of the Paris attacks, who travelled back from Isil territory to Paris.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Feridun Sinirlioglu, said his country and the US were about to launch a joint operation to “put an end to the control Isil is still exercising on a zone of our frontier”, adding: “Our operations will continue with more and more intensity. You will see this in the days to come.”

RAF Reaper drones flying over the area will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for


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