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Military

Update: air strikes in Iraq

26 October 2015

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

Latest update

UK forces have continued to provide intensive support to Iraqi troops fighting to rid their country of ISIL terrorism. On the ground, British military instructors form part of the coalition's large-scale programme to help train and equip the Iraqi security forces. The British teams have run numerous infantry training courses for the Kurdish peshmerga, as well as taking the Coalition lead for teaching techniques to lessen the threat from the improvised explosive devices (IED) on which the ISIL terrorists rely heavily now that they have been forced onto the defensive by Iraqi successes. The Defence Secretary announced yesterday that the new courses of counter-IED (C-IED) training started this weekend, following the Prime Minister's pledge this summer that the UK would increase the number of personnel assisting the Iraqi government's counter-ISIL efforts. The UK has also donated 1,000 VALLON IED detectors, and these, along with the training provided, have saved many Iraqi lives with Kurdish forces recently defeating 60 IEDs and avoiding a further 300 in a single village.

In the skies above Iraq, the Royal Air Force continues to make a significant contribution to the coalition air campaign to support the Iraqi ground forces. Tornado GR4 and Reaper aircraft fly daily armed reconnaissance missions, engaging ISIL targets when they are identified.

On Wednesday 7 October, a pair of Tornados assisted Kurdish security forces when an advance west of Kirkuk came under fire from an ISIL mortar. The terrorist heavy weapon was struck by a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.

The following day, a Reaper located an ISIL check-point, used to prevent local civilians from enjoying any freedom of movement. The Reaper's crew were able to conduct a successful attack using a Hellfire missile.

On Sunday 11 October, Tornado GR4s again provided close air support to the Kurdish forces, on this occasion north of Mosul. As with the incident earlier in the week, a terrorist mortar opened fire on the peshmerga, but was silenced by a Paveway IV strike.

GR4s were also in action on Friday 16 October, when they used a Paveway to destroy an ISIL heavy machine-gun position, while a Reaper, patrolling ahead of Iraqi troops on Sunday 18 October, identified two large truck-bombs and successfully attacked them with Hellfire missiles.

Previous air strikes

1 September: A Reaper patrolling in western Iraq, where it spotted a vehicle check-point close to the Syrian border being used by the terrorists to prevent the movement of traffic. The Reaper's crew conducted a successful strike with a Hellfire.

2 September: Another Reaper provided air support to Iraqi army units operating in western Iraq. The aircraft conducted four successful attacks on terrorist targets. With the ISIL in Ramadi increasingly cut-off and isolated by the Iraqi security forces, terrorists were spotted loading hundreds of mortar and rocket rounds onto a boat, which then attempted to smuggle the ammunition down the Euphrates river. A direct hit by one of the Reaper's Hellfires sank the boat and its cargo.

The Reaper then destroyed three vehicles – two armoured trucks and a bull-dozer - using a pair of Hellfire missiles and a Paveway guided bomb, with significant secondary explosions confirming large quantities of explosives. Elsewhere in Iraq, a second Reaper successfully attacked a terrorist position with a Hellfire, whilst GR4s located an enemy engineering vehicle near Mosul, constructing a fortified position, and destroyed it with a Paveway.

3 September: A Reaper observed another load of mortar and rocket ammunition being prepared for transport and destroyed it with a Hellfire.

4 September: A Reaper patrol supported two coalition air strikes on terrorist positions, then conducted its own attack on an ISIL team armed with rocket-propelled grenades, after they had fired on Iraqi forces.

6 September: Two Tornado GR4s conducted four Paveway strikes on a series of machine-gun nests near Sinjar, neutralising the threat these presented to the Kurds.

7 September: A Reaper destroyed an ammunition truck, whilst the reconnaissance work of another Reaper discovered a large terrorist network of bunkers and trenches: our aircraft provided targeting support to three successful attacks by coalition fast and conducted five attacks with its own weapons. Near Bayji, a pair of Tornado GR4s flew close air support for Iraqi troops, and used Paveway IVs to destroy three buildings held by terrorist teams.

8 September: A Reaper patrolling over western Iraq discovered several large stockpiles of explosives close to the Euphrates River. It destroyed one of the stockpiles with its own Hellfire missile – a skiff waiting to transport the explosives was sunk in the blast - and helped coalition fast jets target three more. The Reaper's crew also provided support to successful air strikes on a terrorist-held compound and a fighting position.

9 September: A Reaper used Hellfires to destroy two vehicles being prepared as car-bombs.

10 September: Another Reaper patrol identified a group of heavily armed ISIL fighters gathering in a building. Both the building and a vehicle used by the terrorists were destroyed with Hellfires, and the Reaper also assisted coalition aircraft in 13 successful attacks on further terrorist positions nearby. Elsewhere in the country, a second Reaper conducted two attacks on extremists attempting to attack Iraqi troops, whilst in northern Iraq, a pair of Tornado GR4s used a Paveway IV precision guided bomb to destroy a building from which the terrorists had been firing a heavy weapon at the Kurdish peshmerga.

11 September: A Reaper supported a Kurdish offensive operation to clear an ISIL-held village, in the course of which it engaged a defensive position with a Hellfire.

13 September: Again in northern Iraq, near to Sinjar, a Paveway from a Tornado mission destroyed a terrorist group, armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

14 September: The Tornado GR4s patrolling near Mosul, where they attacked a rocket-firing position, while a Reaper operating over Anbar province, struck a pair of terrorists who had been spotted preparing a booby-trap, then supported two further coalition air strikes in the area.

15 September: A Reaper assisted coalition strikes on ISIL rocket launchers in western Iraq, then used Hellfires to attack an ISIL team as they attempted to arm a "daisy-chain" of linked improvised explosive devices and a GBU-12 guided bomb against a hostile fighting position.

16 September: GR4s bombed two terrorist positions, including a heavy-machine gun, which were firing on Kurdish troops and in western Iraq a Reaper destroyed an engineering vehicle and a large car-bomb which ISIL were positioning to attempt to hold up Iraqi advances.

19 September: Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga as they conducted offensive operations. Near Sinjar, the peshmerga came under fire from a heavy machine-gun positioned in a building. This was destroyed by our aircraft using a Paveway IV precision guided bomb. The GR4s then flew east to the area around Mosul, where another Kurdish unit was being engaged by a terrorist mortar team; this too was neutralised by a Paveway IV.

20 September: An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft on patrol over western Iraq launched a Hellfire missile which destroyed a stockpile of explosives.

21 September: Another Reaper, operating over north-west Iraq, identified two vehicles carrying ISIL terrorists which were successfully tracked and destroyed with Hellfire missiles.

24 September: Tornado GR4s were again on patrol near Mosul when they were called upon to assist a Kurdish unit under fire from an ISIL mortar; the terrorist position was hit in a Paveway strike.

27 September: An RAF Reaper on a surveillance mission over northern Iraq observed a number of armed terrorists as they moved between buildings in a pair of compounds and successfully attacked three terrorist positions, using Hellfire missiles.

29 September: Again in northern Iraq, a Reaper tracked a car carrying a number of ISIL extremists to a building, which was destroyed with a Hellfire. The Reaper was also able to support two other coalition air strikes in the immediate area, which destroyed a vehicle and a fighting position.

30 September: Two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga advancing west of Kirkuk, who had come under fire from two ISIL heavy machine-gun positions. Both positions were successfully hit using Paveway IVs, removing the threat posed to the Kurdish troops.

1 October: An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled ahead of Kurdish peshmerga as they conducted their latest offensive against the ISIL terror network in northern Iraq. The Reaper's crew identified a team of armed terrorists moving on foot and successfully engaged them with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then provided support to a coalition air strike on an ISIL facility, where car-bombs were being assembled; our aircraft used its sensors to sweep the surrounding area, ensuring there was no risk to civilians, before the air strike went ahead and destroyed the target.

2 October: Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri also provided close air support to the peshmerga, south-west of Kirkuk. ISIL extremists were spotted and were struck by a Paveway IV guided bomb. Meanwhile, further south and west, a Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike on an ISIL-held building, then used one of its Hellfires to destroy an armoured truck. The Reaper then provided targeting support to another coalition aircraft as it engaged a terrorist heavy machine-gun concealed under trees.

4 October: RAF GR4s patrolling over western Iraq, where they destroyed an anti-aircraft gun position with a Paveway IV. A Reaper was also operating over Anbar province, and it supported coalition air attacks on two Da'ish buildings and a heavy machine-gun.

5 October: A Reaper, again operating over the west of the country, identified a terrorist team as they planted an improvised explosive device, and successfully attacked them with a Hellfire.



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