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Update: air strikes against Daesh

15 February 2016

British forces have continued to conduct air operations in the fight against Daesh

Latest update

While diplomatic efforts continue to implement a cease-fire in Syria and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid, RAF aircraft have maintained intensive operations against the Daesh terrorists in both Syria and Iraq.

On Tuesday 9 February, a pair of Typhoon FGR4s, supported by an RAF Voyager air refuelling tanker, destroyed an armoured vehicle, converted into a large truck-bomb, blocking a road with a Paveway IV guided bomb south-west of Kirkuk.

The following day, Wednesday 10 February, Typhoons provided close air support to Iraqi troops engaged in close combat with Daesh extremists north of Habbaniyah. The Typhoons struck the terrorists with a pair of Paveway IVs.

As Iraqi ground forces clear the remaining pockets of Daesh within Ramadi city they are also turning their efforts to Daesh strongpoints to the north and east of the city, supported by coalition aircraft. On Thursday, a pair of Typhoons, working in close cooperation with a coalition surveillance aircraft, successfully conducted two Paveway attacks on groups of terrorist fighters. Later that day, a second Typhoon mission over the area used Paveways to destroy a heavy machine-gun position and an accommodation block used by Daesh.

Typhoons were also active east of Ramadi on Friday 12 February, bombing two groups of terrorists, as well as a team planting improvised explosive devices.

On Sunday 14 February, a Tornado mission successfully targeted a compound north of Habbaniyah, where around 16 Daesh extremists had been observed, striking it with a pair of Paveway IVs.

Whilst the Typhoons and Tornados were providing direct close air support to the Iraqi ground forces, Reaper remotely piloted aircraft and Sentinel strategic surveillance aircraft conducted extensive reconnaissance missions across Daesh-held areas of Iraq and Syria to help gather the vital intelligence which allows coalition forces to conduct effective air strikes on the terrorists. As Daesh are steadily driven back in Iraq, it is as important to determine where they no longer have a presence as it is to find where they are located. On the ground, British military instructors continue to play their part in the coalition programme to build up the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces; the specific training and equipment which the UK has provided to help the Iraqi troops deal with improvised explosive devices is proving particularly important as they now seek to make the streets of Ramadi safe to allow the many displaced people to begin returning to rebuild their lives.

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.

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.

19 January: 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.

20 January: Typhoon FGR4s and Tornado GR4s provided close air support to Iraqi ground forces in and near Ramadi. Four successful attacks were conducted using Paveway IV guided bombs, striking two Daesh-held buildings, a group of extremists, and an armoured personnel carrier which was being converted into a large truck-bomb. The latter attack also detonated the stockpile of explosives close by. A Typhoon mission also provided support to Iraqi troops near Fallujah, hitting a terrorist mortar position with a Paveway IV.

21 January: A pair of Typhoons patrolling Ramadi and Haditha, delivered four Paveway attacks on three Daesh strongpoints and a further explosives stockpile. Further north, a Tornado flight used a pair of Paveway IVs to destroy a terrorist fighting position and a mortar team near Qayyarah.

22 January: Typhoons worked closely with another coalition aircraft to target a group of terrorists concealed beneath trees, scoring a direct hit with a Paveway.

24 January: A Typhoon mission operating near Ramadi, identified an anti-aircraft gun and ammunition store and attacked with two Paveways which destroyed both targets. The Typhoons then switched their focus to a network of Daesh trenches located near Habbaniyah, where they were joined by a pair of Tornados. The two RAF aircraft conducted six attacks with Paveways on the trench positions and a bunker. Tornado GR4s also patrolled south-east of Mosul, where they struck three terrorist-held buildings. A further Typhoon mission dropped six Paveways on a terrorist command compound north-west of Ramadi. Meanwhile in Syria, Tornados used Brimstone missiles to successfully attack three mobile cranes, being used by Daesh to repair damage from coalition air strikes.

25 January: A further two cranes destroyed by Brimstones, south-west of Raqqa, whilst a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft hit a Daesh position with a Hellfire missile, just on the Syrian side of the border. In northern Iraq, Tornado GR4s bombed a mortar position and a sniper team which had opened fire on Kurdish forces advancing south of Sinjar.

26 January: In the west of Iraq, a pair of GR4s conducted three attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs against a weapons stockpile, a terrorist fighting position, and a truck armed with an anti-aircraft gun. Further north, GR4s provided close air support to Kurdish troops near Kirkuk; a Paveway was used to strike a Daesh-held building. The GR4s then attacked a group of terrorists hidden inside a pair of caves overlooking the Little Zab River. The Tornados launched a pair of Brimstone missiles, which scored direct hits on both of the cave entrances. Meanwhile in Syria, Tornados used six Brimstones to attack mobile cranes south-west of Raqqa, highly valued by Daesh when attempting to repair damage inflicted by air strikes.

27 January: Typhoon FGR4s patrolled east of Ramadi and used a Paveway to destroy a terrorist armoured personnel carrier, then, north of Habbaniyah, worked with another coalition aircraft to deliver a successful Paveway attack against a group of terrorists engaged in combat with Iraqi troops. In northern Iraq, between Qayyarah and Mosul, a Tornado mission destroyed a Daesh vehicle with a Paveway IV.

28 January: Typhoons in action north of Habbaniyah conducted four successful attacks on Daesh positions, including a heavy machine-gun team. In north-western Iraq, Tornados bombed both a mortar and a heavy machine-gun position, while other Tornados and a Reaper operated east of Ramadi; the GR4s destroyed an armed vehicle, parked under cover, with a Brimstone, and the Reaper used a Hellfire missile to destroy an armoured truck – extensive secondary explosions suggest that it had been converted into a large truck bomb.

29 January: Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager tanker, flew armed reconnaissance missions over north-east Syria and northern Iraq. Near Mosul, the Typhoons conducted two attacks with Paveway IV precision guided bombs, striking a group of terrorists and a weapons store. Across the border in Syria, two pairs of Tornados worked in close cooperation with an RAF Reaper to target a group of Daesh defensive positions and a large tunnel complex with several entrances. The Tornados dropped eight Paveways on the defensive positions and two tunnel entrances, while the Reaper conducted an attack on a third tunnel with its own GBU-12 guided bomb.

30 January: In the area of Ramadi, Reapers conducted two successful attacks with Hellfire missiles against an armoured truck and a mechanical excavator, while a patrol along the border with Syria destroyed another engineering vehicle, used to build defences and attempt repairs to damage from coalition air strikes, near Al Qaim.

31 January: A Tornado GR4 flight provided support to the Iraqi army in and around Ramadi: our aircraft used a Brimstone missile to destroy a large truck-bomb, and three Paveways to destroy terrorist positions, including a heavy machine-gun team which had been previously attacking the Iraqi army. In northern Iraq, Typhoons conducted two Paveway attacks on a group of terrorists caught in the open near Mosul, and, slightly further south, a Daesh-held building. A pair of Typhoons also patrolled over eastern Syria, where they employed Paveways to destroy two large clusters of defensive positions.

1 February: Two Tornados flew reconnaissance and close air support for the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq. Near Kisik Junction, they used a Brimstone missile and three Paveways to attack three rocket launchers and a Daesh vehicle, then over Qayyarah, a further Brimstone and Paveway destroyed an ammunition truck and a mortar position. Typhoons operated in the area of Ramadi, where they conducted successful attacks on three terrorist strongpoints.

2 February: Typhoons worked closely with other coalition aircraft to target a group of terrorists manoeuvring in the open near Ramadi, hitting them with a Paveway IV guided bomb. The Typhoons then flew to the area north of Habbaniyah, where they conducted a Paveway attack on a terrorist-held building. Further north, a pair of Tornado GR4s bombed a Daesh mortar team that was firing on Iraqi troops near Bayji.

3 February: Typhoons and Tornados providing close air support to Iraqi forces clearing Daesh positions in the area around Ramadi. The Typhoons destroyed a terrorist building with a Paveway, then used two more Paveways to engage a pair of Daesh groups, armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, which were engaged in close combat with Iraqi troops. Despite the proximity of the friendly forces, the precision of the Paveways and careful planning by the aircrew allowed both targets to be struck successfully. The Tornados similarly had to attack a series of Daesh positions close to Iraqi forces, and these were also highly successful: Paveway attacks accounted for four groups of terrorist fighters, including one heavy machine-gun and two mortar teams, and when machine-gunners opened fire on the Iraqis from the windows of a single storey building, the Tornados launched a pair of Brimstone missiles which accurately struck both windows.

Later in the day, Typhoons used a Paveway to destroy a mechanical excavator which had been converted into a large booby-trap, positioned amongst trees next to a road east of Ramadi.

4 February: RAF patrols over the countryside around Ramadi and Fallujah. Typhoons bombed three Daesh positions, as well as a group of terrorists caught moving in the open, whilst Tornado GR4s again attacked extremists engaged in very close combat with Iraqi forces; Paveways were used to destroy a heavy machine-gun team and a strongpoint, but in one instance, the terrorists were so close to the Iraqi troops that even a Paveway could not be used safely. Fortunately, the Brimstone missile's precision and small warhead allowed one to be fired into the midst of the Daesh fighters to significant effect. The following day, Typhoons operated around Habbaniyah and Ramadi, using eight Paveways to destroy an armed truck, a recoilless gun, two Daesh-held buildings, a command and control position, two weapons caches and a workshop producing truck-bombs.

7 February: Tornados used a Brimstone missile to destroy a truck-bomb near Habbaniyah, while Typhoon missions near Ramadi successfully attacked a garage containing an armed pick-up truck which was firing through the doorway at advancing Iraqi soldiers, and a terrorist-held building. Throughout all these missions, the Typhoons and Tornados were supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, with Sentinel aircraft providing essential strategic surveillance support to the coalition.

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