Update: air strikes in Iraq and Syria
20 January 2016
British forces have continued to conduct air operations in the fight against Daesh
As part of the international coalition, RAF Tornado GR4, Typhoon FGR4 and Reaper aircraft have flown daily armed reconnaissance missions to seek out terrorist activity and to provide air support to the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces who are battling Daesh on the ground.
On Monday 18 January, Typhoons operated over northern Iraq, working in close cooperation with Kurdish forces. North-west of Mosul, our aircraft identified two groups of armed terrorists and struck both with Paveway IV guided bombs. The Typhoons then flew west to the area south of Sinjar, the scene of a significant Kurdish victory in November, where they employed a third Paveway to destroy a concealed Daesh vehicle.
Tuesday 19 January saw Typhoons and a Reaper patrolling over Ramadi to assist the Iraqi ground forces as they continue to clear the city of Daesh positions. The Typhoons conducted successful Paveway attacks on a terrorist mortar team and a group of Daesh armed with rocket-propelled grenades. The Reaper used its Hellfire missiles to destroy a group of terrorist vehicles, including a fuel tanker, a supply truck and a mechanical excavator used for constructing defensive positions. Meanwhile, a second Reaper was operating near Haditha, where it attacked a large truck-bomb, terrorist fighters and a supporting vehicle with three Hellfires.
Previous air strikes
1 January: An RAF Reaper supported coalition air strikes in Ramadi, and on 2 January, another Reaper used a Hellfire missile to destroy a mortar position near Fallujah.
3 January: A busy day for RAF aircraft: Typhoons delivered four successful attacks in Ramadi against terrorist positions, including a mortar team. A second Typhoon mission over Ramadi conducted no less than six attacks, accounting for five machine-guns and a sniper position. Near Haditha, Tornados destroyed a truck-bomb, while a Reaper used Hellfires against two armed pick-up trucks and a group of terrorist fighters. Over northern Iraq, two more flights of Tornado GR4s successfully attacked a total of two mortar and four machine-gun positions.
Daesh terrorists have suffered further losses following intensive Royal Air Force strikes as part of the coalition's air campaign over Iraq and Syria.
4 January: A pair of RAF Typhoon FGR4s operated over northern Iraq and used Paveway IV precision guided bombs to attack eight terrorist mortar and rocket positions. Meanwhile, Tornado GR4s provided close air support to the Iraqi army as they continue their operations to eliminate the remaining terrorist fighters in and around Ramadi. When an Iraqi unit came under rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from several Daesh-held buildings, the GR4s conducted a very accurate attack on all four buildings using Paveway IVs. The Tornados were tasked to deal with a group of terrorists who were preparing for a counter-attack. Despite this being a difficult target for most weapons, the GR4s were able to score a direct hit with a Brimstone missile.
An RAF Reaper was also patrolling over Ramadi it provided surveillance support for three air strikes by coalition fast jets, and also conducted two attacks using its own weapons, employing a GBU-12 laser guided bomb against a Daesh machine-gun team, and destroyed two terrorist trucks with a single Hellfire missile. On Monday evening, a Tornado patrol, supported as ever by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, used a Paveway IV to strike a Daesh-held building near Mosul.
5 January: RAF Typhoon patrols over Ramadi continued, they used Paveways to destroy two terrorist machine-gun positions, as well as an anti-aircraft gun that had opened fire on an Iraqi Air Force helicopter. Near Haditha, Reapers provided close air support to Iraqi security forces as Daesh attempted to mount an attack on them Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 were used against two armed pick-up trucks, two machine-gun teams and groups of terrorist fighters. In the area around Mosul, Tornado GR4s hit two Daesh rocket teams.
6 January: Following their loss of control of key areas in Ramadi, Daesh extremists attempted to mount attacks against Iraqi ground forces near Haditha. Coalition aircraft provided extensive close air support to Iraqi troops, and a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s used two Paveway IV bombs in attacks on with an Iraqi terrorists who were engaged in close combat unit. The Typhoons then flew south to Ramadi, where operations continued as the Iraqis sought to eliminate those Daesh positions that remain in the city. Working closely with other coalition aircraft, the Typhoons conducted four Paveway attacks, destroying two machine-gun positions and two armoured personnel carriers.
In northern Iraq, Tornado GR4s supported Kurdish forces; south of Sinjar, a Paveway IV destroyed a terrorist team manning rocket launchers, while near Mosul, three fighting positions and three accommodation blocks used by Daesh were destroyed by six Paveways. Later in the day, Typhoons were once again over Ramadi, where they struck two terrorist positions, including a heavy machine-gun team that was firing on Iraqi troops.
7 January: Operations over Ramadi continued with Typhoons delivering six successful Paveway IV attacks on Daesh positions, including two more machine-gun teams. In the north, the Tornados were likewise again patrolling over Mosul and Kisik, and these missions used Paveways against a group of extremists and a rocket position.
8 January: Tornado GR4s conducted two more Paveway attacks near Mosul, striking rocket and machine-gun teams.
10 January: The focus turned to a series of targets inside Syria. Near Raqqa, a pair of Tornados bombed a pair of Daesh-held buildings, one of which was a confirmed command and control centre, and used a Brimstone missile to destroy a supply truck. A second pair of GR4s dropped four Paveway IVs on a tunnel complex, again near Raqqa, whilst a Reaper engaged a terrorist position with a Hellfire missile. During the evening, a further Tornado flight and a Reaper used a combination of Brimstone and Hellfire missiles to attack a number of mobile cranes brought in by Daesh to attempt to repair the severe damage inflicted by previous RAF and coalition air strikes on the Omar oil field.
11 January: A milestone was passed on Monday morning when an RAF Reaper flew the 1,000th sortie by the type since they were committed to operations against Daesh in October 2014.
Iraqi ground forces have made repeated successful advances against the Daesh terrorist network, with recent major successes at Sinjar and Ramadi. Mosul remains the largest Iraqi town held by the terrorists, and they have concentrated much of their command and control functions within the city. Patient intelligence assessment allowed a walled compound in the northern part of Mosul to be identified as a major headquarters of the Daesh security organisation, which is responsible for terrorising the civilian population – and indeed demoralised elements of their own membership – into compliance, and is thus associated with many of the terrorists' worst atrocities inside Syria and Iraq. Very careful planning allowed three key targets within the compound to be identified, and an attack carefully planned to minimise any risks to civilians in Mosul.
11 January: RAF aircraft have also continued very active air operations against Daesh targets inside Syria. A Reaper identified a terrorist check point – one of the methods used by Daesh to attempt to impose their will on the civilian population – and successfully attacked it using a Hellfire missile.
12 January: Reapers maintained surveillance over the oilfields in eastern Syria which have been targeted by coalition air strikes, including by the RAF, to deny Daesh the ability to use the oil to finance their operations. The Reapers identified a mechanical excavator which was being used to attempt repairs, and an oil pump which had evidently been brought back on line, and destroyed both with Hellfire missiles. In north-eastern Syria, Tornado GR4s meanwhile patrolled in the area of Al Hasakah, where they used Paveway IVs to strike two Daesh-held strongpoints. While other coalition aircraft conducted a series of strikes on a range of other key Daesh targets within Mosul, Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, used Paveway IV guided bombs to attack the security headquarters compound, and initial analysis indicates that the attack was a success.
13 January: Typhoon FRG4s provided Iraqi ground forces with close air support as they continue to eliminate terrorist positions in and around Ramadi and conducted two successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs on Daesh machine-gun teams. Further north, south-west of Sinjar, Tornado GR4s supported operations by the Kurdish peshmerga and used a Paveway to destroy a machine-gun position which had opened fire on the troops.
14 January: Typhoons were again in action over Ramadi, where they delivered three Paveway IV attacks on a group of Daesh fighters preparing for an assault, a firing position and a mortar team. Tornados patrolled east of Mosul, where they used a pair of Paveways to attack a mortar position and an armed pick-up truck. Typhoons operated in the same area that night, and successfully bombed three buildings in a terrorist-held compound.
15 January: Tornado GR4s struck a Daesh barracks near Raqqa, with two Paveway IVs, also destroying one of their vehicles parked close by.
17 January: GR4s conducted two successful attacks with Brimstone missiles, destroying a vehicle near Tabbaqah, west of Raqqa, in Syria and a terrorist supply truck south of Sinjar in Iraq.
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