Britain's Ministry of Defense says warplanes have taken off for their first combat mission over Iraq since Parliament approved airstrikes targeting the Islamic state group.

The Tornado GR4 aircraft took off from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus on Saturday, hours after Britain joined the U.S.-led coalition of nations that are launching airstrikes against the extremists.

The Ministry of Defense says that the Tornados "are now ready to be used in an attack role as and when appropriate targets are identified."

Prime Minister David Cameron has described U.K. involvement as critical to security on home soil, arguing that facing down terrorists has become a matter of urgency. He says the hallmarks of the campaign would be "patience and persistence, not shock and awe."