Update: air strikes against Daesh

The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Syria.

Summary

Wednesday 9 May – Typhoons bombed a pair of terrorists in western Iraq.

Thursday 10 May – Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building in the Syrian Euphrates valley.

Monday 14 May – Typhoons bombed a terrorist mortar position in eastern Syria.

Sunday 20 May – Tornados attacked a Daesh tunnel complex south-west of Mosul.

Detail

Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly armed reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria in the fight against Daesh. Typhoons, Tornados and Reaper’s have continued to support the Iraqi security forces as they deal with attempts by Daesh to resume terrorism within the country and provided close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces clearing terrorist pockets in the Euphrates River valley.

Speaking at a Global Coalition campaign update in London, Deputy Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Major General Felix Gedney, said:

The campaign against Daesh is not over. We will continue to fight side by side with our international allies until the threat Daesh pose to our security at both home and abroad is eliminated.

The one year anniversary of the atrocious terrorist attack in Manchester this week serves to underline the importance of totally eradicating Daesh and its poisonous ideology.

A flight of Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s were tasked on Wednesday 9 May to deal with two terrorists who had been spotted by a coalition surveillance aircraft as they moved on foot in the western desert of Iraq, some 25 miles south-east of Ar Rutbah. The Typhoons successfully located the terrorists and used a single Paveway IV guided bomb to strike them.

The following day, another Typhoon flight supported the Syrian Democratic Forces operating in the Euphrates valley. A large building, defended by Daesh extremists, had been identified to the north-north-west of Hajin. Having checked that there were no signs of any civilian presence in the vicinity, the Typhoons conducted an attack with two Paveway IVs which demolished the terrorist strongpoint.

Typhoons delivered a further attack against Daesh on Monday 14 May; a Paveway IV was employed to destroy successfully a mortar position and ammunition cache which had been spotted in eastern Syria. On Sunday 20 May, a pair of Tornado GR4s were tasked with the destruction of a tunnel complex which terrorists were attempting to reoccupy in the open countryside south-west of Mosul. Three tunnel entrances were identified, and each struck with a Paveway IV.

UK contribution to the fight against Daesh

Map of UK forces committed to Operation Shader
Map of UK forces committed to Operation Shader

Campaign against Daesh

Map of Daesh losses and gains in Iraq and Syria since September 2014
Map of Daesh losses and gains in Iraq and Syria since September 2014

Previous update

Thursday 8 March – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist drone in eastern Syria.

Saturday 10 March – Typhoons bombed a Daesh drone team in eastern Syria.

Sunday 11 March – Tornados eliminated a small group of terrorists in northern Iraq.

Sunday 18 March – a Reaper killed two terrorists on a motorcycle in eastern Syria.

Monday 26 March – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist vehicle in eastern Syria.

Thursday 5 April – Typhoons attacked two groups of terrorists and their vehicle in the western deserts of Iraq.

Monday 23 April – Tornados eliminated a Daesh group on a hillside in north-west Iraq.

Monday 30 April – Tornados attacked a Daesh tunnel complex on an island in the Tigris, south of Mosul.

Friday 4 May – Typhoons destroyed a truck-bomb factory in eastern Syria, whilst Tornados struck a terrorist position and vehicle in the countryside south of Kirkuk.

Saturday 5 May – Typhoons and Tornados demolished six buildings and a defensive position used by Daesh in eastern Syria.

Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions over eastern Syria against Daesh. A terrorist drone was reported north of Abu Kamal in the Euphrates valley of Syria on Thursday 8 March, and an RAF Reaper was tasked with hunting for it. The Reaper’s crew spotted the conventional winged drone on a flat roof where it had landed. Having conducted a careful check for any signs of civilian life in the area, the drone was then destroyed by a direct hit from a Hellfire missile. In similar fashion, a Typhoon flight armed with Paveway IV guided bombs s was able to strike successfully a Daesh team flying a quadcopter drone from a building in the Euphrates valley on Saturday 10 March.

A further attack was conducted in Iraq on Sunday 11 March; coalition surveillance had identified a small group of Daesh extremists in a hilly region some 25 miles south east of Qayyarah and the Iraqi security forces requested assistance in dealing with them. Two Tornado GR4s eliminated the Daesh group with a single Paveway IV, thus preventing any effort to re-establish terrorist activities in the area.

On Sunday 18 March, a Reaper tracked a pair of terrorists on a motorcycle south-east of As Shadadi in eastern Syria. It became clear that they were operating as a mobile checkpoint in an attempt to exert control over the local area. The Reaper’s crew waited until the motorcycle was in open country, and despite its high speed, achieved a direct hit with a Hellfire which killed both of the Daesh extremists.

A Reaper tracked a group of terrorists in a vehicle in the Syrian Euphrates valley on Monday 26 March, and successfully destroyed it and its occupants with a precision Hellfire missile attack. Following an detailed investigation, it is assessed that one civilian was unintentionally killed in the strike. For further information please see the Government’s statement here.

On the night of Wednesday 5 April, two Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s, based at Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, were dispatched to the western deserts of Iraq, some 40 miles south-east of Ar Rutbah, where a surveillance aircraft was tracking a group of terrorists. An initial strike by the Tornados, armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, saw one aircraft attack several of the extremists, whilst the second aircraft destroyed their truck, parked some distance away. Within the hour, further members of the group had been successfully identified nearby, and were struck by a third Paveway IV.

A further attempt by Daesh to resume operations in Iraq was frustrated by two Tornado GR4s on Monday 23 April. Iraqi security forces had identified a group of terrorists at large in the north-west of the country. The Tornados, conducting an armed reconnaissance patrol over Syria, were duly retasked to deal with them. The terrorists were camped on a ridgeline some ten miles south-east of Tal Afar, and their location was accurately struck by two Paveway IVs. Immediately following the attack, a number of extremists were spotted attempting to disperse over the hillside, but they were successfully eliminated by further attacks with two Brimstone missiles and a third Paveway.

On Monday 30 April, two Tornado GR4s based at RAF Akrotiri were tasked with the destruction of a tunnel complex which had been identified on a wooded island in the Tigris River, a few miles south of Mosul. Two Paveway IV guided bombs were utilised to penetrate and collapse the tunnels.

A similar operation was carried out by Tornados on Friday 4 May; their target on this occasion was a terrorist position hidden in remote woodland some distance south of Kirkuk. Again, two Paveways were used, one striking the position, another taking care of the terrorists’ truck, parked nearby. Meanwhile, in Syria, intelligence analysis had identified a truck-bomb factory in a compound, east of the town of Abu Kamal. A pair of Typhoons successfully destroyed the factory with three Paveway IVs.

Further strikes were conducted in eastern Syria the following day, Saturday 5 May. Typhoons employed Paveway IVs to destroy three buildings which were being used by Daesh as an operating base, as well as a nearby defensive position. A Tornado flight similarly dealt with a large Daesh security post, established in three more buildings; each received a direct hit from a Paveway.

Thursday 1 February: Several coalition aircraft, including an RAF Reaper and two Tornados, supported the SDF as they cleared a village of terrorists. The Reaper spotted an anti-tank gun team firing at the SDF, and guided the strike on the weapon team by a coalition aircraft. The Reaper then hit three more terrorist positions, and the Tornados eliminated a heavy machine-gun team.

Friday 2 February: Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building.

Saturday 3 February: Typhoons demolished a further two such buildings , whilst a Reaper destroyed another.

Sunday 4 February: a Reaper hit another building held by a large group of terrorists.

Monday 5 February: a Reaper struck a pair of terrorists riding a motorcycle at speed across countryside.

Wednesday 7 February: another Reaper tracked a number of terrorist targets in the same area, allowing two Daesh-held buildings to be struck successfully by coalition fast jets. The Reaper dealt with a third such building used as a firing point against the SDF, whilst two Tornados destroyed a terrorist observation post, then attacked a building from which a Daesh team planting booby-traps was operating.

Friday 9 February: a Reaper provided surveillance support to a series of coalition air strikes on terrorist targets, and conducted an attack with a Hellfire missile against a group of extremists who were firing upon the Syrian Democratic Forces. A Tornado flight also carried out successful attacks on two Daesh-held buildings.

Saturday 10 February: a Reaper hit two groups of terrorists operating within buildings, and two other groups fighting in the open. The Reaper’s crew then tracked a local terrorist command team as it moved between locations, supporting a successful attack by coalition fast jets.

Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air-refuelling tanker, conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over the Euphrates river in eastern Syria on Wednesday 14 February, in support of the continuing operations by the Syrian Democratic Forces to eliminate the Daesh presence in the area. A mechanical excavator, used by the terrorists to construct fortified positions, was identified and destroyed by a Paveway IV guided bomb.

Heavy cloud hampered, but did not prevent, effective air operations in eastern Syria on Friday 16 February. A flight of Typhoons and a flight of Tornado GR4s worked closely with the Syrian Democratic Forces; the troops on the ground were able to identify five positions held by Daesh extremists, in some cases with vehicles alongside them, and the locations were passed to our aircraft. Each of the five locations was then attacked with a Paveway IV through the cloud, and in each case the SDF reported that a successful strike had been delivered.

An RAF Reaper patrolled over the Euphrates on Tuesday 20 February, using its advanced surveillance capabilities to scout ahead of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The Reaper’s crew conducted two attacks with Hellfire missiles on identified armed terrorists, including a successful strike against a pair on a motorcycle moving at high speed.

Royal Air Force aircraft continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance patrols over eastern Syria, but the next air strikes did not occur until Wednesday 28 February. One flight of Typhoons delivered attacks with Paveway IVs against two Daesh armoured vehicles spotted by the Syrian Democratic Forces to the north-east of Abu Kamal, with one of the weapons being accurately delivered through cloud against a target which the aircrew could not themselves see. A second Typhoon flight conducted Paveway attacks on a key road in the area, cratering it to prevent the terrorists from moving equipment along it, particularly heavy truck-bombs.

Coalition intelligence analysis identified a group of four buildings in eastern Syria as a terrorist base, situated close to the border with Iraq. Two Typhoons, supported by coalition surveillance aircraft, conducted an attack on Saturday 3 March, and demolished all four buildings with direct hits from Paveway IVs.

Although Daesh have been defeated within Iraq, RAF and other coalition aircraft have remained available to support the Iraqi security forces as necessary. On Sunday 4 March, a Typhoon flight was tasked with the destruction of a tunnel, used by the terrorists as a weapons storage area, located in a remote area in northern Iraq, more than 15 miles south-east of Hawijah. Our aircraft destroyed the tunnel, and the weapons cache therein, with two Paveway IVs.

Details of previous airstrikes can be found here.

For more information see Daesh: UK government response page on GOV.UK