RAF fighter jets guarded a Cyprus base in fear of a revenge attack by the Kremlin after a missile strike wiped out a Syrian chemical weapons plant.
British war planes flew from the Mediterranean to launch eight £790,000-a-piece missiles at Assad's storage plant 15 miles west of Homs, in Syria.
Four RAF Tornado GR4 bombers from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus were escorted by four Typhoon fighters to drop the 900lb Storm Shadow bombs.
But it has now emerged that two Typhoon fighters stayed behind to guard the base.
UK defence chiefs drew up emergency plans to airlift holidaymakers from Cyprus
RAF chiefs had the warplanes at "high readiness" on the runway in case Vladimir Putin planned to launch his own jets, in retaliation for the bombing of his ally Bashar al-Assad, the Daily Mail reports.
While the Typhoon's were on guard the four RAF fighters were launching a devastating attack - 300 miles away from their target.
Not one missile was fired from inside Syrian airspace. They were launched from as far afield as the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Med and Qatar and hit around 2am UK time.
British, US and French missiles hit the chemical plants simultaneously — reducing them all to ruins and putting President Assad’s chemical weapons programme back years.
In the wake of the attack:
- THERESA May vowed to attack Syria again if Assad carried out more atrocities
- FOR the first time Football Association sources refused to rule out a Russia World Cup boycott
- DEFENCE chiefs drew up emergency plans to airlift holidaymakers from Cyprus
Pentagon chief Lieutenant General Kenneth F McKenzie said all the allied missiles had hit “between one-two minutes” at around. He added the strikes would “set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back for years”.
McKenzie said “robust” allied forces were ready to repel any Syrian or Russian counter-attack, adding: “We’re on the balls of our feet. We’re ready for anything.”
It was the first time the rockets, which use GPS and computerised mapping technology, have been used in Syria.
No allied casualties were reported and all allied aircraft returned safely to their bases. No Russian defences in Syria were activated.
Russia President Putin said the strikes were an “act of aggression”. And Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, warned: “Such actions will not be left without consequences.” (The Sun)