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Update: air strikes against Daesh

30 March 2016

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

Latest update

- Tuesday 22 March – Tornados struck a terrorist staging area in western Iraq, and frustrated continued attempts by Daesh to repair a vital bridge over the Tigris in the north, while in Syria a Reaper destroyed a terrorist-held building.
- Wednesday 23 March – Typhoons attacked Daesh positions in northern Iraq, including a tunnel and a mortar team.
- Thursday 24 March – Tornados destroyed a mortar team that was firing on Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, while a Reaper destroyed a vehicle in eastern Syria.
- Friday 25 March – Typhoons attacked five terrorist positions near Mosul.
- Sunday 27 March – Typhoons provided close air support to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, eliminating sniper and heavy machine-gun teams.
- Monday 28 March – Typhoons struck three terrorist-held buildings in northern Iraq.
- Tuesday 29 March – Tornados and Typhoons hit multiple targets in western and northern Iraq, including five truck-bomb facilities and a tunnel complex.


Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s conducted strike operations over both western and northern Iraq on Tuesday 22 March. In Anbar province, a Tornado flight was able to destroy with Paveway IV guided bombs a staging post used by Daesh extremists. Further north, near Qayyarah, coalition surveillance aircraft identified renewed attempts by Daesh to build an improvised ramp up to a damaged bridge at a key crossing over the Tigris, just south of Qayyarah; RAF aircraft had destroyed the heavy engineering vehicles and a previous attempt at a ramp on 17 March. Two Tornados therefore returned to the bridge and again destroyed the ramp with Paveways, preventing the terrorists from reopening their supply route across the river. In eastern Syria, a Reaper used a Hellfire missile to demolish a Daesh storage building near Ukayrishah; the attack was very carefully planned in both timing and weapon choice to avoid causing any damage to a nearby school.

On Wednesday 23 March, Typhoon FGR4s patrolled over northern Iraq. They used Paveways to destroy a Daesh position south of Sinjar, and a tunnel entrance, two terrorist-held buildings and a mortar team all located near Kisik. The following day, Tornados were again active over Qayyarah; working in close cooperation with a coalition surveillance aircraft, they were able to successfully engage with a Paveway a Daesh mortar team that had opened fire on Kurdish forces. Across the border in eastern Syria, a Reaper used a Hellfire missile in a successful attack on a Daesh vehicle. Typhoons caught extremists mustering near Mosul on Friday 25 March, and struck five positions with Paveway IVs.

RAF aircraft continued to provide close air support to the Kurdish forces on Sunday 27 March. Paveways from a Typhoon flight silenced both a sniper and a heavy machine-gun team who were engaged in combat with Kurdish troops near Qayyarah, and a further Paveway accounted for a second heavy machine-gun team that opened fire on the peshmerga south of Sinjar. The Typhoons were again in action south of Sinjar on Monday 28 March, when they bombed two terrorist-held buildings, before flying to the area around Tall Afar where they struck a third Daesh position. Operations over both northern and western Iraq continued on Tuesday 29 March. One Typhoon flight struck a reported Daesh storage building north-east of Mosul, while a second flight assisted Kurdish forces by bombing a mortar position near Quyyarah, then conducted attacks on terrorist installations nearby; one Typhoon was able to strike simultaneously four tunnel entrances, each with a Paveway, the second aircraft striking three truck-bomb facilities, again each with a Paveway. In Anbar province, two further truck-bomb workshops near Hit were successfully attacked by Tornados the same day.

Previous air strikes

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. In the evening 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.

8 March: Patrols over northern Iraq continued, 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.

9 March: 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.

10 March: Both Tornados and Typhoons were active over the Euphrates valley, 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.

11 March: A Reaper worked with coalition jets to attack terrorists to the west of Sinjar. The Reaper provided targeting assistance for three successful coalition air attacks on groups of Daesh fighters, it then conducted two attacks of its own using Hellfire missiles.

12 March: Another Reaper was active in the same area and conducted an attack on terrorists who were launching rockets. The terrorists immediately left the area in a truck which the Reaper's crew tracked and successfully attacked with a Hellfire. The Reaper then directed coalition aircraft in an attack on an array of rocket launchers nearby.

13 March: Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, provided support to Iraqi troops operating to the west of Ramadi. The Typhoons used a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs to demolish the entrance to a tunnel system which was reported to be surrounded by IEDs.

14 March: Typhoons and Tornado GR4s also provided support to ground forces in northern Iraq. Near Qayyarah, Typhoons used Paveways against two Daesh mortars and a group of terrorists engaged in a firefight with the security forces, whilst near Kisik, Tornados destroyed two Daesh positions, again with Paveway IVs.

15 March: Typhoon FGR4s provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga pushing south from Sinjar and eliminated a heavy machine-gun position firing on Kurdish troops, scoring a direct hit on the terrorists with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.

16 March: The Kurdish forces received further air support from the RAF the following day, when Tornado GR4s, destroyed another heavy machine-gun which had opened fire on the peshmerga some miles to the west of Kirkuk. Further south, in Anbar province, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over Anbar province and identified and attacked a terrorist check-point near Ar Rutbah being used to intimidate and control the local population using a Hellfire missile.

17 March: Tornados and Typhoons operated over both northern and western Iraq. Typhoons used a Paveway bomb to demolish a building from which a terrorist sniper had opened fire on Iraqi forces near Tall Afar, while a Tornado mission over Anbar worked in cooperation with a coalition remotely piloted aircraft to assist Iraqi troops engaged in combat with Daesh extremists to the north-west of Ramadi. Despite heavy cloud obscuring the target, the RAF and coalition aircraft used their highly sophisticated surveillance and targeting equipment to allow the Tornados to deliver two precision attacks with Brimstone missiles on the terrorists, then, once they attempted to retreat, to strike the remainder of the Daesh group with a Paveway.

Meanwhile, another Tornado flight Near Kisik used a Paveway to destroy a Daesh command and control position, where a number of terrorists had gathered. The Tornados then interrupted Daesh's efforts to reopen supply routes near Qayyarah, destroying targets with two direct hits from Paveways and then another Paveway and Brimstone missiles were used to destroy three engineering vehicles.

18 March: Paveway-armed Typhoons struck a group of extremists mustering east of Mosul, while Tornados similarly hit two Daesh groups gathered for possible attacks near Kisik.

20 March: Tornado GR4s were in action again over northern Iraq, when they used Paveways to destroy three weapons caches and supply points several miles south-west of Sinjar.

21 March: Two flights of Typhoons provided close air support to the Kurdish forces; one flight destroyed a Daesh group that was firing rockets at the Kurds, whilst the other flight successfully attacked three terrorist teams which were planting improvised explosive devices in the Kisik area. Across the border in Syria, careful reconnaissance work had identified a major Daesh weapons storage facility at a site near Ukayrishah, south-east of Raqqa. This intelligence success allowed Tornado GR4s to conduct a very successful strike on Monday night, delivering eight Paveway IVs which destroyed the main warehouse and three support buildings. On the ground, British training teams continue to play an important role in the large coalition programme to help the Iraqi security forces become ever more effective in their successful efforts to drive the terrorists from their country. The British instructors have focused on training infantry and combat medical skills, as well as leading the coalition's assistance in how to deal safely with the thousands of improvised explosive devices and booby-traps left behind by Daesh in an attempt to prevent the civilian population from resuming their lives in liberated territory.

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