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Update: air strikes against Daesh

9 May 2016

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

Latest update

- Wednesday 4 May – A Reaper destroyed a truck bomb, whilst Typhoons and Tornados attacked a number of Daesh positions, including heavy weapons and a tunnel entrance, in western and northern Iraq.
- Thursday 5 May – Tornados struck a terrorist group near Mosul, Typhoons hit a tunnel and a mortar team near Fallujah.
- Friday 6 May – Tornados and Typhoons interdicted the movement of ammunition on the Euphrates, as well as striking mortars and heavy machine-guns around Mosul and Fallujah.
- Sunday 8 May – Typhoons bombed rocket launchers and three stockpiles of weaponry south of Fallujah.


Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly daily reconnaissance missions over Syria and Iraq against the Daesh terrorist network, conducting a significant number of attacks whilst operating in close support of Iraqi ground forces.

On Wednesday 4 May, a Reaper identified a truck-bomb, concealed underneath a tarpaulin, next to a road in western Iraq. The crew checked that there were no civilians or friendly forces at immediate risk and used a Hellfire missile to score a direct hit on the vehicle, detonating the explosives safely. South of Fallujah, a pair of Typhoon FGR4s used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a building where a group of extremists, armed with a heavy calibre automatic weapon. In the same area, a Tornado GR4 flight dropped four Paveways on a weapons stockpile, two Daesh-held buildings, and a tunnel entrance. RAF aircraft also supported Kurdish forces in the north of the country, where another Tornado flight bombed a group of Daesh fighters and a mortar team, the latter positioned in a small copse of trees.

On Thursday 5 May Tornados Missions in support of Iraqi and Kurdish operations demolished a terrorist position north-east of Mosul on around Mosul and Fallujah, while Typhoons bombed a tunnel and a mortar south-west of Fallujah.

On Friday 6 May, Daesh terrorists were spotted unloading rockets and mortar projectiles from a number of small boats and a barge on the Euphrates in Anbar province. A Tornado reconnaissance patrol, armed with Brimstone missiles, was first on the scene and prevented the initial load of weapons from being driven away, hitting the terrorists' truck with a Brimstone while they were still loading it. A Paveway-armed flight of Typhoons then arrived and used its bombs to destroy the weapons on the shore, and sink the barge. The same Typhoon flight also attacked a mortar position south-west of Fallujah. A second Tornado flight destroyed two heavy machine-gun positions on the north bank of the Euphrates, downstream from the recently liberated town of Hit. In northern Iraq, Typhoons struck another mortar, north-west of Mosul.

Typhoons were active south of Fallujah on Sunday 8 May, where a rocket launcher was identified in the open with three known caches of ammunition stored nearby. All four targets were struck with Paveway IV guided bombs and successfully destroyed.

Previous air strikes

1 April: Typhoons were active over western Iraq. A Daesh truck armed with an anti-aircraft gun was successfully bombed north-east of Ramadi and Paveways were used to destroy a fuel tanker converted into a truck bomb near Hit and a bunker west of Fallujah where terrorists had been spotted. In northern Iraq, a Tornado patrol employed Paveway IVs to destroy three Daesh buildings in the Mosul and Sinjar areas.

2 April: Coalition surveillance operations had identified Daesh extremists using a former Iraqi military ammunition depot near Qayyarah in northern Iraq. This intelligence indicated that the terrorists were manufacturing improvised explosive devices and other weaponry on the site. As part of a large coalition air strike on terrorist facilities in the area, four RAF Tornado GR4s were tasked with attacking 16 of these storage bunkers. Each aircraft dropped a salvo of four Paveways, and initial indications are that the strike was highly accurate and effective. An RAF Reaper was also active in the Qayyarah area, hunting a Daesh mortar team. The aircraft's crew were able successfully to locate the team, operating a truck-mounted mortar, concealed under trees on the western bank of the Tigris, and secured a direct hit with a Hellfire missile.

4 April: Typhoon FGR4s patrolled over Anbar province in western Iraq. East of Fallujah, the Typhoons struck two buildings occupied by Daesh fighters that had been identified by Iraqi ground forces with Paveway IV guided bombs. The aircraft then flew to the city of Hit, on the Euphrates river, where a coalition surveillance aircraft had spotted a large group of terrorists positioned in a line of trees on the edge of the town. These extremists were also struck using a Paveway IV.

Other RAF aircraft were active over northern Iraq; Tornado GR4s assisted Kurdish peshmerga engaged in a firefight north-west of Mosul, hitting their Daesh opponents with a Paveway, whilst Typhoons conducted a successful bombing attack on extremists mustering near Qayyarah.

5 April: A Typhoon flight operated over northern Iraq, using Paveways to attack three Daesh-held buildings north-east of Mosul, including a weapons store. They then used a further three Paveways to destroy three Daesh positions some miles south of Kirkuk, including a headquarters building and a base used by a mortar team.

6 April: A Typhoon flight tasked to provide close air support to the Iraqi security forces attacking Daesh strongholds in Hit. The Typhoons used Paveways to strike a total of seven targets identified by the aircraft themselves, the Iraqi forces and supporting surveillance aircraft. A rocket-propelled grenade team firing from a building were silenced in a precise strike which avoided causing damage to a nearby mosque. They also destroyed two heavy-machine guns; a third heavy machine-gun on the northern bank of the river; and a series of simultaneous attacks eliminated a fourth machine-gun position and two more groups of Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG)-armed terrorists. In northern Iraq, Tornado GR4s bombed a network of trenches near Qayyarah.

7 April: The Tornados were in action again over northern Iraq, where they used a Paveway to destroy a truck-bomb positioned ahead of Kurdish troops south of Kirkuk. They then destroyed a machine-gun position on the Little Zab River using a Brimstone missile. Near Qayyarah, a Typhoon flight supported Kurdish troops who had come under fire from a number of Daesh positions. Two terrorist-held buildings were destroyed, and a group of extremists caught manoeuvring in the open were also struck with a Paveway.

8 April: RAF Typhoon FGR4s patrolled the area around Hit. Coalition surveillance aircraft located a concealed improvised artillery piece – known as a "hell cannon" – which had opened fire on the Iraqi troops and was hidden under trees. Working closely with surveillance aircraft, the Typhoon flight was able to score a direct hit using a Paveway IV guided bomb.

9 April: A RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft was tasked to hunt for a Daesh mortar team operating in the Hit area. Intensive surveillance allowed the Reaper's crew to identify and track motorcycle-mounted terrorists who stopped to set up a mortar. They were struck by a Hellfire missile from the Reaper.

10 April: Two flights of Tornado GR4s operated over northern Iraq to support Kurdish ground forces. One flight working east of Mosul demolished a Daesh-held building, suspected to be a local headquarters, using Paveway bombs. The Tornados then hit a building being used to stockpile rockets with another Paveway and used a Brimstone missle to account for a set of rocket launch rails nearby. The second Tornado flight provided support to Kurdish troops near Qayyarah who were coming under fire from a sniper team – they were successfully silenced by a further Paveway.

11 April: An RAF Typhoon mission destroyed a terrorist machine-gun team east of Mosul, then struck three Daesh positions east of Qayyarah.

12 April: A pair of Tornados bombed through thick cloud to hit two terrorist positions, including a rocket launching team, north of Mosul, and a Daesh mortar team near Qayyarah. In western Iraq, Typhoons supported the Iraqi counter-terrorist forces pushing into Hit, and used Paveways to strike two buildings held by Daesh rocket-propelled grenade and machine-gun teams.

13 April: RAF Typhoon FGR4s assisted in the destruction of one of the remaining terrorist strongpoints on the eastern outskirts of the town, striking, despite the very close proximity of the Iraqi forces, a Daesh machine-gun position with a Paveway IV guided bomb. When the Iraqi troops liberated the town's hospital, they found that it had been converted into a terrorist bomb-making factory, with a number of vehicles there, including an ambulance, converted into truck-bombs; fortunately, the speed of the Iraqi victory prevented these deadly booby-traps from being deployed. In northern Iraq, other Typhoons bombed terrorist rocket and mortar teams located some miles south-west of Sinjar, and in the Kisik area, which had opened fire on advancing Kurdish troops. West of Mosul, Tornado GR4s tracked an articulated lorry carrying a prepared car-bomb on its trailer; despite the lorry's speed, a direct hit was scored on the car-bomb using a Brimstone missile.

The Tornados then used Paveways to destroy two clusters of barges being used by the terrorists to move men and supplies across the Tigris.

14 April: Tornados patrolling over northern Iraq provided close air support to Kurdish forces in the areas south of Sinjar and Kisik. Successful Paveway attacks accounted for a Daesh mortar team and destroyed the entrance to a tunnel system where a number of terrorists were reported to be hiding. Near Qayyarah, Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building, again using a Paveway IV. In western Iraq, as the last Daesh fighters pulled out of Hit, a Tornado flight employed two Brimstone missiles to sink boats used by them to cross the Euphrates.

17 April: A Tornado armed reconnaissance patrol over northern Syria bombed a Daesh large calibre mortar position near Manbij. In northern Iraq, a Typhoon flight used a total of eight Paveways in a succession of successful strikes around Kisik, Mosul and south of Kirkuk, destroying a terrorist mortar team, four vehicles, and three Daesh-held buildings.

18 April: A Typhoon mission used Paveways to attack two mortar positions which had opened fire on Kurdish troops near Kisik, while a pair of Tornados conducted simultaneous attacks on three Daesh targets north-east of Mosul, hitting a bomb-making factory and two other terrorist-held buildings. In western Iraq, Typhoons dropped four Paveways to destroy ten rocket-launchers and a stockpile of ammunition positioned on the bank of the Euphrates.

19 April: In northern Iraq, Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s spotted a tractor pulling a large towed mortar near Barimah. A hit from a Brimstone missile brought the tractor to a halt, and a Paveway IV guided bomb then destroyed the mortar. Near Mosul, a pair of Typhoons accounted for two more mortars, hitting them with Paveways which also destroyed their stockpiled ammunition. In western Iraq, another Tornado mission assisted Iraqi forces, who had liberated the town of Hit the previous week, as they cleared terrorist positions across the Euphrates on the northern bank. The Tornados destroyed two machine-gun positions using Paveway IVs.

20 April: Typhoons, supported by an RAF Voyager refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Iraqi troops operating north and east of Fallujah. Two successful Paveway attacks hit a machine-gun team in a trench and a mortar in a covered firing position. In northern Iraq, Tornados used Paveway IVs again to attack two Daesh-held buildings near Qayyarah.

21 April: A Tornado mission saw the first use of the RAF's Enhanced Paveway III (EPWIII) against Daesh – a guided bomb with a 2000lb deep penetration warhead. Our aircraft normally carry the smaller Paveway IV guided bombs and Brimstone missiles, which can be carried in larger numbers and are more useful for close air support missions. The EPW III has been held in reserve for use if needed against particularly challenging underground or hardened targets. The Tornados flew as part of a coalition air strike on a large complex of tunnels and bunkers dug into terraced hillsides above the Euphrates in western Iraq, successfully scoring direct hits with a pair of EPW IIIs on two entrances to the bunker network.

22 April: Two RAF Reapers operating over Syria conducted strikes. Near Abu Kamal, one Reaper provided surveillance support to a successful coalition attack on an improvised weapons factory, then used two of its own Hellfire missiles to demolish a nearby workshop used for constructing car-bombs. The second Reaper tracked a terrorist vehicle near Tabuqah, south-west of Raqqa, and destroyed it with a Hellfire.

In western Iraq, Typhoons continued to support Iraqi ground forces north of Fallujah, where they conducted four Paveway attacks against snipers, a bunker and an entrenched fighting position. Tornados patrolled south-west of Kirkuk, where two Paveways destroyed a bridge built by Daesh across a canal, and a communications post nearby.

24 April: Typhoons were again in action near Fallujah; one pair silenced a sniper position that was firing on Iraqi troops, while a second pair dropped three Paveways on a Daesh compound.

25 April: Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s patrolled over northern Iraq, supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker. The aircraft were alerted to a group of Daesh terrorists gathering in two buildings south-west of Kirkuk and struck both buildings with Paveway IV guided bombs.

26 April: The following day Tornado GR4s operated over northern Iraq and used a Brimstone missile to destroy a vehicle south-west of Mosul. Paveway-armed Typhoons were active over western Iraq, striking a group of terrorists engaged in combat with Iraqi ground forces north-east of Fallujah before proceeding to destroy the entrance to a bunker on the bank of the Euphrates.

27 April: A pair of Tornados used Paveway IVs to destroy a terrorist mortar team operating north of the town of Hit, as well as a truck-bomb concealed amidst trees nearby. Later in the day, Typhoons struck a machine-gun position in the same area and a Daesh tactical command post north of Fallujah. In northern Iraq, Typhoons conducted a series of strikes near Qayyarah, hitting one mortar and two rocket teams, plus another truck-bomb. Near Mosul, Tornados hit a mortar position with a Paveway IV.

28 April: Tornados continued their action over the north some distance to the south of Sinjar, striking a further mortar team as well as entrenchments that included the entrance to a tunnel system near Qayyarah. A second Tornado mission silenced a machine-gun position on a former industrial site east of Fallujah.

29 April: Tornados on a reconnaissance mission used two Brimstone missiles to destroy a T-55 tank and an armed truck despite the efforts by Daesh to conceal both in a palm grove south of Fallujah.

2 May: Typhoons provided further support to the Iraqi forces near Fallujah, striking a machine-gun team in a bunker and a 23mm anti-aircraft gun. In northern Iraq, Tornados used two Paveways to destroy a Daesh-held building and a nearby weapons store north of Mosul, then flew south to the Qayyarah region where Iraqi forces were engaged in a firefight with a group of terrorists manning a fortified position. Despite the close proximity of the friendly forces, very precise strikes with two Paveways and two Brimstones helped destroy the Daesh group.

3 May: An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducting reconnaissance over the village of Batnay, north of Mosul. A truck-bomb was identified inside a compound and struck using a Hellfire missile, resulting in a very large explosion. The Reaper then provided targeting support to a successful strike by coalition fast jets against a group of Daesh fighters and their vehicle. Two Tornados were also tasked to operate over Batnay, and they successfully destroyed a further Daesh vehicle with a direct hit from a Brimstone. In western Iraq, Typhoons provided further close air support to Iraqi forces near Fallujah, striking a mortar team and their vehicle hidden under trees south of the city.

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