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Update: air strikes against Daesh

11 March 2016

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

Latest update

Royal Air Force aircraft, flying as part of the global coalition against Daesh, have struck further terrorist targets in support of the Iraqi ground forces.

- Monday 7 March – Typhoons bombed Daesh extremists engaged in combat with Kurdish troops in northern Iraq.
- Tuesday 8 March – Tornados and Typhoons conducted three attacks in northern Iraq, including a large-scale strike on a fortified former village.
- Wednesday 9 March – Tornados and Typhoons conducted four attacks in northern and western Iraq, including a further large-scale strike on another fortified former village.
- Thursday 10 March – Tornados and Typhoons conducted five attacks in northern and western Iraq, destroying a weapons cache and several Daesh fighting positions.


RAF Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s and Reapers have flown daily armed reconnaissance missions over Syria and Iraq, conducting – in conjunction with Sentinel aircraft – extensive surveillance of suspected terrorist locations. They have also provided close air support to the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces as they continue offensive operations against Daesh in western and northern Iraq. On the evening of Monday 7 March, a Typhoon patrol assisted Kurdish peshmerga fighting a group of terrorists near Kisik by attacking the Daesh position with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.

Patrols over northern Iraq continued on Tuesday 8 March. Near Kisik, Tornados used a Paveway against a terrorist position, while a Typhoon flight silenced a heavy machine-gun position with a direct hit from a Paveway. The Typhoons were then tasked to use their remaining Paveway bombs to strike seven strongpoints in a village south of Sinjar, where Daesh had driven out the civilian population and were using it as a defensive base against the Kurdish advance. All seven Paveways struck their targets accurately.

On Wednesday 9 March, the Typhoons patrolled south of Sinjar. A vehicle used by Daesh to construct defensive positions, was destroyed by a Paveway. A second deserted village taken over by the terrorists as a fortified haven, near Ranbusi, was then attacked with six targets successfully struck by Paveways. Further south, Tornado GR4s were providing close air support to Iraqi forces in the Euphrates river valley. A Paveway was used against a group of terrorists in the open, whilst a further pair of Paveways accounted for two heavy machine-gun positions.

Both Tornados and Typhoons were active over the Euphrates valley the next day, Thursday 10 March, assisting Iraqi forces as they cleared Daesh positions to the west of Ramadi. A Tornado mission targeted a terrorist weapons cache concealed under the ramp of a destroyed bridge over the Euphrates, using two Paveways. At the same time a Typhoon mission conducted successful strikes on a heavy machine-gun team and a group of extremists engaged in close combat with Iraqi troops. In the north of the country, a Typhoon flight attacked a rocket launch point near Tall Afar, then dropped Paveways on six Daesh positions in the Kisik area where Kurdish forces had spotted terrorists preparing for a possible attack.

On the ground in Besmaya, Erbil, Taji and the Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province, UK personnel are training Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in infantry skills, Counter-IED, weapons maintenance and combat medical techniques. To date the UK has helped to train over 6,500 personnel and this training is already saving lives and contributing to recent successful operations, not least in Ramadi.

Previous air strikes

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.

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.

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.

11 February: 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. 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.

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

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.

15 February: Two Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over northern Iraq in support of Kurdish security forces. A group of Daesh extremists were identified in a pair of buildings south-west of Kirkuk and were able to attack both at the same time with Paveway IV bombs. A Brimstone missile destroyed a terrorist vehicle and before the Tornados returned to base a Paveway was used to attack a weapons cache.

Meanwhile, RAF Typhoons alongside other coalition aircraft conducted a series of coordinated attacks on Daesh facilities. The targets included a large weapons store at Abu Kamal, on the Syrian bank of the Euphrates which was destroyed with four Paveway IVs. An RAF Reaper provided surveillance support to several of the other coalition attacks.

16 February: Tornados patrolled over northern Iraq and came to the assistance of advancing Kurdish forces who were under fire from Daesh heavy machine-gun and mortar teams south-east of Mosul. Paveway attacks successfully dealt with the threat.

17 February: A Tornado mission interrupted a Daesh team preparing to fire nine artillery rockets, hitting them with Paveway to impact the middle of the line of launch rails.

18 February: RAF Tornado GR4s and a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducted counter-Daesh missions over Syria. North of Abu Kamal, a Tornado patrol used a pair of Brimstone missiles to strike a large engineering vehicle being used for wellhead repair and maintenance in a Daesh-controlled oilfield. Meanwhile, north-west of Raqqa, a Reaper worked closely with coalition jets to prosecute a group of Daesh extremists who were attacking members of the moderate Syrian armed opposition. The Reaper provided targeting and surveillance support to three successful coalition air attacks, then conducted a fourth attack using its own Hellfire missile. Over Iraq, other Tornados continued to support Iraqi army operations around Ramadi, in the course of which they used Paveway IVs to bomb three Daesh-held buildings.

19 February: Typhoon FGR4s and Tornados patrolled over western Iraq. North-east of Ramadi, an Iraqi helicopter reported coming under fire from an anti-aircraft gun concealed beneath a carport. A Paveway IV delivered by a Typhoon removed the threat. The Typhoons then dropped two Paveways on a large building where a group of terrorists, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, were holding out against the advancing Iraqi troops. North-east of Al Asad airbase, a coalition surveillance aircraft identified a set of five rocket launchers and an ammunition stockpile set up in a palm grove, and was able to guide in a Tornado flight which destroyed both targets with Paveways, then used a third Paveway to eliminate a group of terrorists caught in the open. Later in the day, a second Tornado patrol used Paveways to destroy four Daesh-held buildings north-east of Ramadi, including two used to prepare truck-bombs. In northern Iraq, a Typhoon mission operated north-east of Mosul, supporting the Kurdish peshmerga, and destroyed two buildings from which the terrorists had been fighting. Over Syria, a Reaper and other coalition aircraft supported moderate Syrian opposition forces north-west of Raqqa; our Reaper assisted in one coalition air strike, then used a Hellfire to destroy an Daesh improvised armoured vehicle.

20 February: RAF Reapers in action over both Syria and Iraq again. North-west of Raqqa, a Reaper tracked a Daesh machine-gun team that had been firing on Syrian opposition fighters. The terrorists retreated to a small building, where they were joined by other extremists. The Reaper then successfully attacked the group with a Hellfire missile. In Iraq, again north-east of Ramadi, another Reaper worked closely with another coalition remotely piloted aircraft to provide close air support to the Iraqi ground forces. The Reaper assisted its coalition partner in an attack, then conducted two attacks with its own Hellfires on two Daesh groups engaged in close combat with the Iraqi troops.

22 February: A Typhoon flight patrolled east of Mosul and was able to identify a Daesh team that was planting improvised explosive devices, they hit with a Paveway.

- Wednesday 24 February – Tornados destroyed a terrorist weapons factory in Mosul.

- Thursday 25 February – Tornados and Typhoons conducted five attacks in Iraq and Syria, silencing mortar and machine-gun positions, and destroying bunkers.

- Friday 26 February – Tornados and Typhoons conducted three attacks in northern Iraq against Daesh mortar and rocket teams, and a checkpoint.

- Sunday 28 February – Tornados and Typhoons conducted three attacks in northern Iraq against mortar and sniper teams; a Reaper conducted five attacks in northern Syria.

1 March: Whilst RAF Tornado GR4s conducted extensive reconnaissance missions against suspected terrorist locations, RAF Typhoon FGR4s patrolled over western Iraq to support Iraqi army operations south-east of Haditha. One of the few large artillery pieces operated by Daesh – a D-30 122mm howitzer – was located close to the Euphrates, and was successfully destroyed by a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.

2 March: Typhoons were active over a wide swathe of northern Iraq, providing close air support to the Kurdish security forces. East of Mosul, Paveways were used to destroy two groups of terrorists with vehicles, the aircraft then flew west to the area north-east of Tall Afar where they conducted a series of four Paveway attacks on a number of rocket-launchers and a stockpile of rockets. A second Typhoon mission bombed a Daesh mortar team south of Sinjar, while a pair of Tornado GR4s used a Paveway to demolish a building north of Mosul where a large group of terrorists had been observed. In eastern Syria, an RAF Reaper worked closely with other coalition aircraft to support Syrian Democratic Forces south-west of As Shadadi, as they followed up on their recent successes against Daesh in the region. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified a terrorist truck, armed with an anti-aircraft gun, concealed in an orchard, and passed the target to the Reaper for prosecution. A Hellfire missile scored a direct hit on the vehicle.

3 March: Typhoons were in action again near Mosul, they used Paveways to destroy two buildings where Daesh terrorists were possibly planning an attack. Later that night, Typhoons also bombed two heavy machine-gun positions south-west of Sinjar.

4 March: Typhoons continued to provide close air support to the Iraqi and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, delivering three attacks with Paveway IVs against Daesh positions near Tall Afar, Kisik and Sinjar.

5 March: Four Typhoons joined other coalition aircraft in a large coordinated operation against terrorist locations in western Iraq. The RAF aircraft targeted a large Daesh weapons factory in the countryside near Qubaysah, some miles west of Ramadi. The Typhoons released a total of 16 Paveways, which completely demolished workshops and storage sheds.

6 March: A Typhoon mission returned to northern Iraq and assisted Kurdish forces south-west of Sinjar, who had come under fire from a terrorist heavy machine-gun team. A Paveway IV destroyed the target.

7 March: Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have also been extremely active over the period, primarily flying surveillance missions. An attack was conducted by a Reaper in the morning, when a Hellfire missile was used to destroy a Daesh-held building in western Iraq, close to the Syrian border.

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