Update: air strikes against Daesh
2 June 2016
British forces have continued to conduct air operations in the fight against Daesh
- Tuesday 31 May – Reapers, Typhoons and Tornados all provided close air support to the Fallujah offensive, as well as destroying other Daesh targets in northern and western Iraq.
- Wednesday 1 June – Tornados struck three Daesh strongpoints on the southern outskirts of Fallujah, whilst Reapers destroyed a terrorist check-point and a rocket launcher in western and northern Iraq respectively.
With Iraqi ground forces continuing operations to liberate Fallujah, Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s, and Reapers joined other coalition aircraft in providing intensive close air support.
On Tuesday 31 May, Tornados used Paveway IV guided bombs to destroy two heavy machine-guns that were threatening the advancing Iraqi forces; one, mounted on a truck concealed in a palm grove north of Fallujah, the second in a building on the southern outskirts of the city. In northern Iraq, a Typhoon and a Reaper provided assistance to the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi forces. The Typhoons destroyed the headquarters of a local Daesh commander to the south-east of Mosul, using Paveway IVs, while the Reaper assisted a coalition aircraft in targeting an engineering vehicle used for constructing defences near Qayyarah, then used its own Hellfire missiles against two terrorist mortar teams. Both the Typhoons and the Reaper then flew south to add their weight to air operations over Fallujah. The Typhoons successfully attacked a third heavy machine-gun position. The Reaper kept close watch on a group of terrorists test-firing and loading weapons, including a heavy machine gun, onto a supply truck. The reaper then destroyed the truck with a direct hit from a Hellfire missile.
Further west, along the Euphrates, near the recently liberated town of Hit, a second Reaper provided support to Iraqi forces consolidating the security of the surrounding area. The Reaper destroyed both a machine-gun team and a vehicle carrying a recoilless anti-tank gun with its Hellfires.
Reapers were in action again on Wednesday 1 June. One patrolled the skies above Qayyarah, where a camouflaged set of loaded rocket launch rails were spotted and destroyed with a Hellfire missile. A second Reaper patrolled over eastern Syria and western Iraq, and located a terrorist check-point on the Iraqi side of the border, west of Al Qa'im, which was stopping the free movement of traffic. Again, a Hellfire missile was employed and the check-point successfully attacked. Two Tornado missions provided reconnaissance and close air support to Iraqi forces around Fallujah. One pair of Tornados used Paveway IVs to conduct simultaneous attacks on two Daesh-held buildings close to a canal to the south of the city; one building housed a terrorist sniper team, the other a recoilless anti-tank artillery piece. Both targets were destroyed by direct hits. The second Tornado flight successfully silenced a heavy-machine-gun positioned in a third Daesh strongpoint after it opened fire on the advancing Iraqi troops.
Previous air strikes
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.
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.
5 May: Tornado 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.
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.
8 May: Typhoons were active south of Fallujah, 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.
9 May: RAF Typhoon FGR4s, armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, conducted successful attacks against a group of Daesh extremists hiding in a tunnel network dug into a riverbank north-west of Kirkuk and against two rocket launcher positions north of Mosul.
Other Typhoons, and Tornado GR4s provided close air support to the Iraqi troops operating in the Euphrates valley. The Typhoons struck a mortar position north of the Al Asad airbase, while the Tornados destroyed a terrorist command post situated nearby in a riverside building in the midst of a palm grove.
10 May: RAF Sentry airborne command and control platforms have also been playing their part in the overall direction of the air campaign against Daesh. A typical Sentry mission saw it controlling some 40 coalition aircraft operating over Syria and Iraq, including several RAF reconnaissance missions.
11 May: Tornados again assisted Iraqi ground forces in the Euphrates valley, when they came up against a heavily defended Daesh building, which was demolished with a Paveway.
12 May: A Typhoon flight used three Paveways to hit Daesh positions ahead of a Kurdish offensive to the south-west of Kirkuk.
13 May: Two RAF Reapers provided close air support to the peshmerga as they advanced, conducting a total of four attacks with three Hellfires and a GBU-12 guided bomb. They destroyed mortar teams and a Daesh supply truck, as well as providing surveillance support to a coalition air strike which destroyed a terrorist strongpoint. Tornados were meanwhile again assisting Iraqi ground forces in the Euphrates valley, and destroyed two Daesh-held buildings on the northern bank of the river.
15 May: A pair of Typhoons conducted successful simultaneous attacks north-west of Fallujah, which destroyed a bunker and an engineering vehicle.
16 May: RAF support to Iraqi ground forces along the Euphrates continued when Tornados used a Paveway bomb to destroy a small Daesh bunker containing ammunition supplies.
17 May: Tornados operated north of Mosul and conducted a successful attack with Paveways on a group of three buildings near Bashiqah, which housed weapon stockpiles. The same day, a Typhoon flight used a pair of Paveways to destroy two machine-gun positions which Daesh were attempting to establish on the northern bank of the Euphrates near Hit following their recent defeat by the Iraqis in the town.
18 May: Flights of Typhoons and Tornados both participated in a series of attacks on Daesh installations north of Tal Afar. The Typhoons employed eight Paveways to attack a cluster of buildings used by the terrorists for command and control, accommodation, and vehicle and weapon storage. The Tornados delivered four Paveways to destroy a further command post and three ammunition stockpiles.
19 May: Tornados from RAF Akrotiri patrolled the Mosul area. North of the city, they used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a tunnel in which a group of Daesh extremists were based, then moved to the east of Mosul where 15 rocket launchers had been stored by the terrorists. Three Paveway IVs were used against ammunition stockpiles, before three Brimstone missiles were used to destroy the rocket launchers. The small warhead and high precision of the Brimstones avoided any structural damage being caused to the surrounding buildings.
Typhoons were also active over northern Iraq that day, operating north of Tall Afar where they employed a pair of Paveways to demolish a large weapons store, then two more Paveways against two other Daesh-held buildings.
20 May: Intelligence analysis pinpointed two Daesh headquarters in north-west Syria, located 10 and 25 miles respectively north of Aleppo near the fighting along the Mar'a Line. A pair of Tornado GR4s were tasked with their destruction. One of the command posts was in a very solidly constructed building, this was targeted with two Enhanced Paveway II 1000lb bombs. A pair of 500lb Paveway IVs were used against the second headquarters. Both targets were destroyed by direct hits.
With the Iraqi ground forces preparing to launch their offensive to liberate Fallujah, Typhoons provided close air support to their operations around the outskirts of the city. A stockpile of components for improvised explosive devices was destroyed with one Paveway and a terrorist strong-point with a second.
22 May: Further close air support was provided around Fallujah, when Tornados bombed a tunnel complex where weapons and ammunition were stored.
23 May: Tornados used a Brimstone missile against a further mortar team near Fallujah. Not far away, Iraqi ground forces were in close combat north of Habbaniyah assisted by a pair of RAF Typhoons that struck a mortar team and a rocket position with Paveways. In the north of the country two more Typhoons contributed to a coalition strike on Daesh installations west of Mosul, a workshop preparing truck-bombs was assigned as the RAF target and successfully demolished by a Paveway. Across the border, in eastern Syria, an RAF Reaper identified a terrorist checkpoint north-west of Dayr az Zawr and destroyed it with a Hellfire missile.
24 May: A Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled near Bayji, where Daesh terrorists were engaged in combat with Iraqi forces. The Reaper used one Hellfire missile to destroy an artillery gun that was firing on the Iraqi troops, it then used a second Hellfire to break up an attempted Daesh attack along a gully. In northern Iraq, Tornado GR4s attacked a Daesh-held building near Qayyarah with a Paveway IV guided bomb. With the Iraqi offensive to liberate Fallujah well under way, a pair of Paveway-armed Typhoons provided close air support west of the city, where they destroyed three stockpiles of terrorist weapons and ammunition.
25 May: Typhoon operations west of Fallujah continued, when they patrolled the area leading to Habbaniyah and on to the outskirts of Ramadi. They conducted a series of Paveway IV attacks, accounting for two Daesh positions, including a heavy machine-gun team, as well as an artillery piece and a bunker.
26 May: They returned to the same area the following day, hitting an ammunition cache that had been spotted near the destroyed bunker. They then struck a building north-east of Fallujah where a large group of terrorists had been reported massing for a counter-attack. In the north, Tornados bombed two terrorist-held buildings and a tunnel near Mosul. Later in the day, a Typhoon flight was tasked with eliminating a group of suicide bombers who had been spotted north of Baghdad, preparing for an attempted diversionary attack on the security cordon around the city; a Paveway IV demolished the building in which they were hiding.
27 May: Intensive air operations along the Euphrates valley around Fallujah and the wider area continued. Typhoons silenced two sniper teams with Paveway strikes, then intervened in a closely fought combat between Iraqi troops and Daesh near Habbaniyah; particular care and precision was needed to avoid causing casualties to the Iraqi forces, but three successful Paveway attacks were accomplished. A second Typhoon flight destroyed a light anti-aircraft gun that was firing on Iraqi personnel near Hit, whilst a pair of Tornados used a Brimstone missile to destroy a truck-bomb in the same area. A Reaper was also active over the Euphrates, using a Hellfire to destroy a vehicle-mounted terrorist team, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, on the outskirts of Fallujah.
29 May: Despite these efforts around Fallujah, the Kurdish forces in the north were not neglected: Tornados bombed a mortar position near Mosul. There were two further attacks near Mosul on Sunday 29 May, conducted by Typhoons against another mortar position and a large truck-bomb that was being prepared for use. In the south, near Hit, a Tornado patrol destroyed a Daesh vehicle with a Brimstone missile.
30 May: Intelligence work had identified two factory sites in northern Syria, between Al Bab and Manbij, producing improvised explosive devices. A pair of Tornados, armed with 1,000lb Enhanced Paveway II bombs, conducted a deliberate strike on the two sites. A Tornado reconnaissance patrol near Mosul used a Paveway to attack a group of terrorists, and a Brimstone to destroy their support vehicle. Typhoons also destroyed three weapon stockpiles to the east of Mosul. Another Typhoon mission maintained a close air support presence over Fallujah, and, working very closely with a coalition surveillance aircraft, used Paveway IVs to attack an armed truck and a Daesh fighting position.
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