Oct 21, 7:09 AM EDT

British surveillance drones to fly over Syria

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LONDON (AP) -- Britain's defense ministry says Royal Air Force drones will fly intelligence-gathering missions over Syria, in a broadening of U.K. operations against the Islamic State group beyond Iraq.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Tuesday that British Reaper drones and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft would be starting operations "very shortly."

In a written statement to lawmakers, Fallon said the aircraft would "gather intelligence as part of our efforts to protect our national security from the terrorist threat emanating from there."

He said the drones were not authorized to use weapons in Syria.

Britain's Parliament voted last month to approve British airstrikes against IS forces in Iraq, but not in Syria.

Fallon said that armed operations in Syria would require "further permission."

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