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Update: air strikes in Iraq

16 April 2015

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

Latest update

The UK's Armed Forces have continued to provide training and air support to Iraqi forces fighting ISIL terrorists.

Whilst British military personnel work alongside other members of the international coalition to help train and equip the Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers who are fighting the ISIL terrorists on the ground, Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft have conducted further intensive reconnaissance and strike missions to support the Iraqi troops from the air.

On Monday 13 April, an armed reconnaissance patrol of Tornado GR4s provided air support to an Iraqi military operation, clearing terrorists from positions to the north of Ramadi. Another coalition aircraft successfully pinpointed a building from which terrorists were firing on the advancing Iraqi troops, and the RAF aircraft conducted a successful attack with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.

GR4s provided further support to the same Iraqi operation the following day, during which they engaged an ISIL armoured vehicle with a Brimstone missile.

RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have also been providing close air support to Iraqi troops in Anbar province, and on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning a Reaper twice struck terrorist positions with Hellfire missiles.

Previous air strikes

2 April: Two Tornado GR4s flew an armed reconnaissance patrol. As well as conducting surveillance with the advanced Raptor pod fitted to the aircraft, the GR4s were able to provide support to Kurdish peshmerga near Sinjar, whose advance had brought them into contact with an ISIL heavy machine-gun position in a building. Working in coordination with the ground forces, the GR4s were able to demolish the position with a pair of Paveway IV precision guided bombs.

3/4 April: A further Tornado patrol conducted an intensive series of successful strikes to help disrupt an attempted ISIL attack south-east of Mosul. The first target was a vehicle which was hit by a Brimstone missile. Two more Brimstones and four Paveway IVs were used against an armed pick-up truck and five terrorist positions.

10 April: Two Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over Mosul and destroyed an ISIL vehicle with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.

11 April: Another GR4 mission provided support for Iraqi troops in Anbar province and identified a factory being used by ISIL to manufacture vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. The GR4s conducted attacks on four targets within the factory, again using Paveway IVs.

13 April: GR4s once again provide close air support for Iraqi ground forces, on this occasion in and around Bayji. Patrolling ahead of the Iraqi troops, RAF aircraft successfully attacked four buildings within an ISIL military compound with Paveway IVs.

Other RAF aircraft flying on operations, as part of the coalition air campaign to support the Iraqi government, include: Reaper remotely piloted aircraft providing armed overwatch for Iraqi troops; Sentry command and control aircraft; Sentinel surveillance platforms; Hercules air transports; and, in the air-to-air refuelling role so important in sustaining lengthy air patrols, a Voyager tanker.

British staff and liaison teams are embedded throughout Iraqi and coalition headquarters to help coordinate support in an effective manner, while military instructors continue to work with coalition partners in delivering training to the Iraqi and Kurdish forces; British trainers have played a prominent role to date in assisting the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq, and the UK is taking the lead in designing a country-wide programme for the coalition to provide training and equipment to help reduce the threat from the improvised explosive devices (IED) which are increasingly favoured by the terrorists as they are forced onto the defensive.

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