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LATEST: air strikes in Iraq

19 November 2014

British forces have continued to conduct air operations to assist the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIL.

In the early hours of this morning, Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft contributed to a major coalition air strike on an extensive ISIL complex of bunkers and tunnels. The strike took place in a rural area some 30 kilometres northwest of Kirkuk, in an operation providing direct support to Kurdish ground forces.

The location had been the subject of surveillance after ISIL terrorists withdrew to the area in the face of advancing Kurdish peshmerga.

Reconnaissance identified a well concealed network of fighting positions and underground facilities, and confirmed that the site was well removed from any civilian communities.

Given the significance of the target, and the obstacle it posed to further peshmerga advances, aircraft from seven coalition nations conducted a comprehensive and closely coordinated attack on complex early on Wednesday.

RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft, carrying Paveway IV precision guided bombs, formed the UK element.

Separately, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted air system (RPAS) was yesterday tasked to investigate ISIL activity elsewhere in Iraq.

The Reaper's operators were able to locate a bulldozer which coalition forces confirmed was being used to prepare fighting positions to hold up Iraqi advances.

A Hellfire missile was used to attack the bulldozer, which initial reports indicate was destroyed.

The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said:

'RAF missions continue to play a crucial role in support of Iraqi ground operations.'

'This morning's strike will have dealt a blow to the ISIL network in a key location, thus limiting their ability to pursue their brutality against the civilian population of Iraq.'

'This is further evidence of the UK's significant role within the coalition, and is one strand of a measured approach to degrading ISIL by an air campaign while also supporting the Iraqi forces through training and development.'

17 November - RAF Tornados and Reapers conducted further strikes against ISIL. On Thursday evening, Kurdish peshmerga reported coming under fire from a dug-in machine-gun position. An RAF Reaper RPAS succeeded in locating the ISIL position, and attacked it with a Hellfire missile. Before the end of its patrol, the Reaper crew used another Hellfire to engage an ISIL checkpoint set up to control a road. Elsewhere in Iraq, another Reaper, investigating reported ISIL activity in response to advancing Iraqi forces, identified terrorists boarding a truck. Despite the vehicle moving off at high speed, the Reaper crew were able to hit it with a Hellfire. And on Saturday night, Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over western and northern Iraq, supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker. In the western desert, they were tasked to strike an ISIL communications vehicle, which coalition forces had previously identified. A single Brimstone missile was used to conduct an attack.

Later in the patrol, the Tornados were called north to the Mosul area to support Kurdish peshmerga who were under fire from ISIL heavy weapons. Paveway precision guided bombs were used to hit a mortar and firing positions, as well as a bulldozer which the terrorists were using to construct defences against the peshmerga's advance. In northern Iraq, a British army team continues to provide training to the peshmerga as part of a wider programme of training and assistance provided by the international community to both the Iraqi and Kurdish armed forces. RAF transport aircraft provide logistic support, having delivered numerous deliveries of humanitarian aid and military equipment from both the UK and on behalf of other Coalition partners.

13 November - last night a RAF Reaper RPAS was involved in a coalition air strike in the Kirkuk region. The Reaper had been tasked to conduct reconnaissance in an area where Iraqi forces had encountered ISIL fighters. The operators were able to use the Reaper's advanced systems to identify a number of ISIL positions, enabling another coalition aircraft to attack a command post, bunker, observation post and 2 armed pick-up trucks. They then identified a further 3 positions, and, having carefully checked the area, conducted attacks using the Reaper's own Hellfire missiles. Initial analysis indicates that the attacks were successful. Other RAF aircraft also continue to fly missions over Iraq, including Tornado GR4s in the armed reconnaissance role, and surveillance, tanker and transport aircraft. A British Army team remains in Erbil, providing training assistance requested by the Kurdish peshmerga.

10 November - saw the first air strike by a RAF Reaper RPAS. A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad, where ISIL terrorists were laying improvised explosive devices. The Reaper, using procedures identical to those of manned aircraft, successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile. In addition, 2 RAF Tornado GR4s used a Brimstone missile to successfully destroy a shipping container used by the terrorists to store equipment near Al Anbar, west of Baghdad.

4 November - saw further action from RAF aircraft as they continue to assist the Iraqi Government in their fight against ISIL. Two Tornado GR4s, flying in support of Iraqi army units in the area surrounding Bayji north of Baghdad, used a Brimstone precision guided missile to successfully destroy an ISIL armed pick-up truck. Other RAF aircraft, including tankers, transport and surveillance platforms also continue to support coalition air operations.

3 November - over the weekend, 2 RAF Tornado GR4s were tasked to investigate ISIL activity near the scene of an earlier successful coalition air strike at Al Qaim, north-west of Baghdad. The aircraft, as part of the international coalition supporting the Iraqi government, identified and destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle using a single Brimstone missile. RAF Tornados were involved in further attacks this morning as a Brimstone missile was again used to attack a heavily armed ISIL pick up truck.

24 October - 2 RAF Tornado GR4s participated in a coordinated coalition air strike overnight (Thursday) at Jar Silah, west of Kirkuk. The aircraft, at the request of the Iraqi Government, used Paveway IV precision guided bombs to successfully attack a former Iraqi military base which ISIL were using as a logistics hub for operations in the area. Other RAF aircraft, including Voyager refuelling tankers, and Rivet Joint and Reaper surveillance platforms, also continue to support coalition air operations.

20 October - early last week, 2 Tornado GR4s, while on an armed reconnaissance patrol, were tasked to attack an ISIL main battle tank which coalition forces had been tracking near Ramadi. Following extensive surveillance to ensure that there were no civilians nearby the tank was destroyed in a precision attack using a Brimstone missile.

19 October - RAF Tornados were involved in further successful airstrikes on ISIL terrorists who had attacked an Iraqi military convoy south of Fallujah. Brimstone missiles were used to hit the ISIL forces, including 2 trucks, ahead of additional attacks by other coalition forces in the area which were supported by UK Tornados. Video footage of the Ramadi mission is available on the Defence Imagery website

8 October 2014 - Tornado GR4 aircraft completed another round of air strikes in Iraq overnight. The RAF aircraft flew further missions to assist the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIL.

7 October 2014 - 2 Tornado GR4s were tasked to support the Iraqi Army. Brimstone missiles and Paveway IV guided bombs were used to conduct a successful precision attack on ISIL terrorists who were firing on Iraqi troops from a stronghold near Ramadi.

6 October 2014 - Tornado GR4s, flying from RAF Akrotiri, have continued their patrols over Iraq as part of the international coalition against ISIL.

5 October 2014 - 2 of our aircraft, flying in support of Iraqi security forces, successfully used Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to attack ISIL terrorists, fortified in a building near Ramadi, who were firing on Iraqi soldiers.

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