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Update: air strikes in Iraq

2 November 2015

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

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Royal Air Force and other coalition aircraft have provided intensive air support for Iraqi ground forces as they continue to close in on ISIL terrorists occupying Ramadi.

A key requirement for the Iraqi units around Ramadi and in Anbar province is accurate intelligence on terrorist movements. RAF Tornado GR4, Sentinel and Reaper aircraft are playing a significant role in providing this with their combination of advanced surveillance sensors and precision-guided weaponry.

On Wednesday 21 October, two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri identified a group of armed ISIL terrorists in Ramadi and successfully engaged them with a Paveway IV guided bomb.

On Friday 23 October, the crew of a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft identified an ISIL armoured personnel carrier, concealed under a large building. Despite the difficulty this target posed, the crew were able to position to destroy the vehicle with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then supported another coalition aircraft in a successful strike on a second terrorist vehicle which had been identified nearby.

On Saturday 24 October, another Reaper worked closely with coalition jets to carry out a series of precision attacks on terrorist positions. The Reaper identified two terrorist sniper positions, which were struck by guided bombs from a coalition aircraft. Advancing Iraqi troops then came into close combat with a group of terrorists; the Reaper maintained close observation on the firefight, and was able to eliminate one terrorist team, without endangering the Iraqi soldiers, using a Hellfire missile. When the terrorists retreated to positions in a trench and a culvert, the Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike which destroyed the trench, and conducted a second Hellfire strike itself on the extremists.

The following day, Sunday 25 October, an RAF Reaper again joined forces with coalition fast jets to help them target two terrorist-held buildings which were successfully attacked, then mounted two strikes with Hellfire missiles on ISIL terrorists as they attempted to reposition themselves.

Previous air strikes

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.

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.

8 October: 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.

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.

16 October: GR4s used a Paveway to destroy an ISIL heavy machine-gun position.

18 October: A Reaper patrolling ahead of Iraqi troops identified two large truck-bombs and successfully attacked them with Hellfire missiles.

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