British fighter jets have been deployed from Akrotiri bases in Cyprus to help with Israel’s defence against Iran’s attack, it emerged in the early hours of Sunday morning.

UK sources confirmed to the Cyprus Mail fighter jets departed from Cyprus – but could not immediately confirm how many and when exactly.

In a statement, the UK’s defence ministry said British Royal Air Force jets in the Middle East “will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required” after Iran targeted Israel with drones and missiles.

“In response to increased Iranian threats and the growing risk of escalation in the Middle East, the UK government has been working with partners across the region to encourage de-escalation and prevent further attacks,” the statement added.

“We have moved several additional Royal Air Force jets and air refuelling tankers to the region. These will bolster Operation Shader, which is the UK’s existing counter-Daesh operation in Iraq and Syria.”

Flightradar24 showed Airbus KC2 Voyager departed at 11:09pm. The destination was not publicly available.

“In addition, these UK jets will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required.”

RAF jets are being used to shoot down Iranian drones after Tehran announced it had launched an attack on Israel in what threatens to become a major regional escalation.

Aircraft in Iraq and Syria have been deployed to intercept “any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions,” the Ministry of Defence said.

U.S. and British warplanes have downed some Israel-bound Iranian drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Israel’s top-rated Channel 12 TV reported early on Sunday without citing sources.

Israel’s military said more than 100 drones, which Iraqi security sources said were seen flying over the country from Iran, would take hours to reach their targets. Israeli Channel 12 said some had been shot down over Syria or Jordan.

Iran‘s state news agency cited a source saying its military had also launched a first wave of ballistic missiles against Israel.

Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven Guards officers including two senior commanders and said its strike was a punishment for “Israeli crimes”. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who on Friday warned Iran against attacking Israel after saying such a scenario appeared imminent, has pledged to stand with Israel against Iran.