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Update: air strikes in Iraq

19 February 2015

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

Latest update

Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft have again struck at the ISIL terrorists in Iraq, hitting a mobile rocket launcher that had fired on Kurdish troops north of Mosul.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 18 February, two RAF Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri conducted an armed reconnaissance mission over northern Iraq to provide close air support to the Kurdish peshmerga, who have conducted a series of successful offensives to liberate their countrymen from the terrorists. The Kurds reported coming under rocket fire, and after an intensive search the GR4s were able to locate an ISIL truck-mounted rocket launcher, and attacked it, scoring a direct hit with a Brimstone missile. The Kurdish peshmerga are also receiving infantry training from a team of coalition instructors, including British military personnel.

Previous air strikes

2 February: Early on Monday, Tornado GR4s provided close air support to Iraqi army operations approximately 70 kilometres north west of Baghdad, and dropped 2 Paveway IVs on ISIL positions engaged in a firefight with the Iraqi troops.

4 February: In the afternoon, a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol to assist the Iraqi armed forces in their offensive operations against ISIL around Bayji. Two ISIL armoured vehicles were identified in a building and were attacked with 2 Paveway IV precision guided bombs, scoring direct hits.

6 February: In the morning an RAF Tornado GR4 patrol worked closely with a coalition surveillance platform to provide overwatch for Kurdish peshmerga, who were engaged in close combat with ISIL – also known as Da'ish – terrorists near Mosul. When an ISIL mortar position opened fire on the pehsmerga, the GR4s were able to respond with a Brimstone missile which scored a direct hit.

7 February: Early on Saturday morning, another Tornado pair patrolled western Iraq, near Al Qa'im, close to the Syrian border. Two heavily armed ISIL trucks were identified and attacked with Brimstone missiles. The GR4s also located an ISIL armoured personnel carrier and conducted a further Brimstone attack; initial analysis indicates that all three vehicles were destroyed.

9 February: An armed reconnaissance patrol by a Reaper over western Iraq spotted a checkpoint manned by ISIL, denying the local population any freedom of movement. Having checked the area for any risk to civilians, the Reaper's crew attacked the checkpoint with a Hellfire missile.

13 February: One of our Reapers provided close air support to an Iraqi unit in combat with ISIL terrorists in Diyala province. The Reaper spotted a machine-gun team firing on the Iraqi troops, and conducted a successful attack with a Hellfire missile. A second machine gun then opened fire on the Iraqis, and the Reaper conducted a further strike with another Hellfire.

18 February: In the early hours of Wednesday morning, two RAF Tornado GR4s were conducting an armed reconnaissance patrol in western Iraq when they were tasked to investigate suspected ISIL engineering work near an oil installation. The GR4s located a bulldozer being used by the terrorists and destroyed it with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb. An armed pick-up truck was also identified and this was also successfully struck with a Paveway. The GR4s were as usual supported by an RAF Voyager tanker, whilst Sentry surveillance and control aircraft help coordinate the international coalition's air campaign to support the Iraqi forces.

Military support is just one part of the UK government's contribution to the global coalition strategy to defeat ISIL – we are also taking action to counter the terrorist network's finances, are restricting the flow of foreign fighters and have provided vital humanitarian relief to help those affected by ISIL's brutality. The RAF contribution includes Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, which, like the Tornados, provide reconnaissance and close air support to the Iraqi ground forces; a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker; a Sentry airborne surveillance and command aircraft; and air transport aircraft as necessary. British military training teams continue to teach infantry and first aid skills to the Kurdish peshmerga, and liaison teams are embedded within Iraqi and coalition headquarters. Having previously provided military equipment to the Iraqi forces, Britain plans to gift improvised explosive device (IED) detectors to help the Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers protect themselves against the numerous improvised explosive devices on which ISIL are increasingly relying as they are forced back by successful offensives. In the Gulf, the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless is operating in direct support of the US Navy's aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, which provides a significant part of the coalition's air effort.

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