LONDON - British fighter jets on Tuesday bombed an artillery post and an armed truck used by the Islamic State group in Iraq in the Royal Air Force’s first strikes in the US-led air campaign.

The defence ministry said two Tornado jets hit the post with a Brimstone missile used against tanks and the vehicle with a 500-pound (230 kilogramme) Paveway IV laser-guided bomb. “Both assessed successful,” read one of the tweets. Another said: “Tornado jets have carried out first air strikes in support of democratic Iraqi government.” It did not say when or where the strikes were carried out but explained they had aided Kurdish troops in the area.”I can confirm that the RAF were in action today in support of the Iraqi government in northwest Iraq,” Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said. Fallon said the strikes were carried out by two jets from an RAF base in Cyprus. “They identified and attacked a heavy weapon position that was endangering Kurdish forces and they subsequently attacked an ISIL armed pickup truck in the same area,” he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group. The British parliament last week approved a motion to join in a US-led military campaign against IS jihadists who have seized huge swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months. The strikes signal the start of Britain’s latest military engagement in Iraq after it pulled out all its troops in 2011 following an eight-year conflict. The government has said it will not send combat troops on the ground or join air strikes in Syria without further parliamentary approval. British foreign minister Philip Hammond earlier on Tuesday said UK forces would not be “panicked” into dropping bombs in Iraq.

“When we do release our weapons we have to be absolutely sure that they are against ISIL targets, that they are not going to kill innocent Sunni Muslim civilians in areas that are occupied by ISIL,” he told the BBC. “Otherwise we are having the opposite of the effect we are intending to have,” he said. Asked about France joining the US-led coalition before Britain did, he said: “There is nobody who knows anything about air power who is suggesting that the French air force is a more formidable force than the RAF.” France has already carried out two rounds of air strikes.

Kurdish troops backed by warplanes battled the Islamic State group on three fronts in northern Iraq on Tuesday, clawing back land they lost to the militants in recent months. The Kurdish peshmerga struck before dawn against the town of Rabia on the Syrian border, north of the jihadist-controlled second city Mosul, and south of key oil hub Kirkuk, officers said. A senior source in the peshmerga said troops had entered Rabia, after seizing the villages of As-Saudiyah and Mahmudiyah.

‘Ground troops are now fighting in the centre of Rabia,’ which lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Mosul. He said peshmerga forces, backed by artillery and warplanes, were also attacking Zumar, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) northwest of the city, near the reservoir of Iraq’s largest dam, which has been a key battleground between the Kurds and the militants. ‘We have ousted IS from 30 positions, including in the Zumar and Rabia areas,’ peshmerga spokesman Halgord Hekmat said. Both Rabia and Zumar were areas which the peshmerga seized in the chaos that followed the militants ‘ capture of Mosul in a lightning offensive in early June. IS forces made a fresh push two months later and inflicted stinging setbacks on the peshmerga, one of the reasons for the US air campaign that began on August .8