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Update: air strikes against Daesh

3 August 2016

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

Latest update

- Tuesday 26 July – Typhoons bombed a terrorist mortar position in northern Iraq.
- Wednesday 27 July – Typhoons destroyed Daesh strongpoints on the Mar'a Line in Syria, whilst Tornados attacked a safe house for foreign fighters in northern Iraq.
- Thursday 28 July – a Reaper provided close air support to Syrian democratic forces fighting near Manbij, Tornados destroyed a mortar in northern Iraq, and Typhoons bombed a bunker in western Iraq.
- Saturday 30 July – a Reaper provided further close air support near Manbij in Syria.
- Sunday 31 July – Tornados attacked a group of Daesh terrorists in northern Iraq.
- Monday 1 August – Tornados participated in a major coalition air strike on Saddam's former palace in Mosul, used by Daesh as a headquarters and training establishment for foreign terrorists, while Typhoons destroyed a network of fortified positions on the outskirts of Manbij.


Following their recent victory at Qayyarah West airfield, Iraqi ground forces continued offensive operations against Daesh around Qayyarah and Sharqat, supported by coalition aircraft.

On Tuesday 26 July, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s provided overwatch, and conducted a successful attack with a Paveway IV guided bomb against a terrorist mortar position.

Tornado GR4s were also active in the same area the following day, when they used a pair of Paveway IVs to demolish a building which had been identified as a safe house used by Daesh foreign fighters near Sharqat. Meanwhile, Typhoons conducted a successful Paveway attack on two terrorist strongpoints, close to Syria's border with Turkey, at the northern end of the so-called Mar'a Line.

RAF aircraft continued to provide close air support to the Syrian democratic forces on Thursday 28 July, when a Reaper patrolled the Manbij area. The Reaper's crew conducted four attacks with Hellfire missiles against several groups of Daesh fighters, and assisted in four further attacks by coalition fast jets. In Iraq, Brimstone-armed Tornados destroyed a mortar near Qayyarah, while a pair of Typhoons used a Paveway IV to strike a Daesh bunker on the shores of Lake Qadisiyah.

A Reaper was again in action over Manbij on Saturday 30 July, when it conducted two attacks with Hellfire missiles on Daesh fighters and also provided targeting assistance to a coalition air strike.

Sunday 31 July saw Tornados patrolling near Qayyarah, where they used a Paveway IV to bomb a group of terrorists spotted in the open.

In Mosul, extensive surveillance had established that Daesh were using a palace, built by the former dictator Saddam Hussein, as a major headquarters and training centre for foreign terrorist recruits. The complex, sat in a large secure compound next to the Tigris, included not just the main palace building, used as an accommodation and meeting venue by the terrorists, but also a number of more discreet outbuildings used for command and control, training, internal security and repression. A large coalition air package drawn from several nations conducted a carefully coordinated attack on the complex on the afternoon of Monday 1 August. The British contribution was a pair of Tornados, armed with the largest guided bombs in the RAF's inventory, the 2000lb Enhanced Paveway III, which were used to target first the headquarters buildings, then a security centre. Initial analysis indicates that the coalition mission was successful.

Over Syria, Typhoons again flew close air support missions for the Syrian democratic forces on 1 August as they advanced into Manbij. A network of fortified positions on the south-western edge of the town, held by a large number of Daesh extremists, was destroyed by a salvo of eight Paveway IVs.

Previous air strikes

1 June: Reapers were in action again, 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.

2 June: Three successive flights of Tornado GR4s and Typhoon FGR4s provided close air support to Iraqi units on the southern outskirts of the city. One Tornado flight conducted four attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs, striking a bunker and three teams of terrorists armed with an anti-tank gun, rocket-propelled grenades and a heavy machine-gun. A second Tornado mission delivered simultaneous attacks on two Daesh-held buildings, then a third bombing attack on a heavy machine-gun position that had opened fire on Iraqi troops. The Typhoon flight dealt with a further artillery piece, using a Paveway IV.

In northern Iraq, another pair of Typhoons struck a group of terrorists spotted advancing towards peshmerga positions near Kisik, then headed to an area south-east of Mosul where they used three Paveways to attack more extremists mustering in and around a large warehouse.

3 June: Operations over southern Fallujah continued when a pair of Typhoons conducted Paveway attacks on two Daesh strongpoints which had opened fire on Iraqi forces with machine-guns and other weapons. Two Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over the city the following day, exploiting their long endurance and excellent surveillance capabilities to provide persistent overwatch for the Iraqi troops on the ground.

During the course of Saturday, the Reapers delivered five attacks, using two GBU-12 guided bombs and three Hellfire missiles, against two machine-gun teams, two Daesh firing positions and a tunnel network. They also provided assistance to five other air strikes conducted by coalition fast jets on terrorist positions.

5 June: Tornados were again in action over southern Fallujah. A factory producing improvised truck-bombs was struck with a pair of Paveway IVs, destroying two vehicles that were being prepared for use, and two further attacks with Paveways accounted for two anti-tank weapons.

6 June: Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s continued to provide close air support to the Iraqi operation to liberate Fallujah. A coalition surveillance aircraft spotted a group of Daesh terrorists taking up position in a building to the west of the city, allowing them to be quickly targeted by the Typhoons using a Paveway IV guided bomb. In northern Iraq, intelligence had located a large truck-bomb factory near Mosul and two RAF Tornado GR4s armed with 1000lb Enhanced Paveway II guided bombs were tasked with its destruction. A single EPW II destroyed the factory.

7 June: Operations around Fallujah continued when Tornados successfully attacked a weapons and ammunition stockpile hidden to the south-east of the city.

8 June: Tornados conducted three attacks to support Iraqi ground forces engaged in firefights with terrorists inside Fallujah. Despite the close proximity of the Iraqi forces, the GR4s were able to deliver simultaneous attacks with Paveway IVs against two strongpoints housing Daesh machine-gun and artillery teams. They then struck a further machine-gun position when it also opened fire on the Iraqis.

Typhoons also contributed to the Fallujah operations, using Paveway IVs against two groups of Daesh extremists armed with a light machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenades. In northern Iraq, another Typhoon mission successfully attacked a Daesh-held building east of Mosul, whilst a Reaper used a GBU-12 bomb to demolish a building where another coalition surveillance aircraft had observed terrorists unloading supplies. A second Reaper patrolled over Syria and employed a Hellfire missile to destroy a Daesh truck travelling at speed on the open road south of Raqqa.

9 June: Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s continued to provide close air support to Iraqi ground forces fighting to liberate Fallujah. One Tornado flight conducted successful attacks using Paveway IV guided bombs against four Daesh-held buildings from which terrorists were directing machine-gun fire at the Iraqi forces. A second Tornado mission used a Paveway IV to destroy a building west of the city, within which a terrorist armed vehicle was reported by nearby Iraqi troops to be concealed.

10 June: A Reaper worked in close conjunction with other coalition aircraft to engage Daesh rocket and mortar teams operating near Qayyarah. The Reaper provided support to two coalition strikes on rocket positions, then used its own Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb against a further set of rocket launchers and a mortar. A Typhoon FGR4 flight was also operating near Qayyarah, and they conducted attacks against five targets: three buildings where Daesh extremists had been spotted gathering and two more rocket launcher positions. North-east of Mosul, another pair of Typhoons destroyed a heavy machine-gun team with a Paveway IV. To the south, Tornados again provided close air support over Fallujah, using their Paveways against three strongpoints which housed two machine-gun teams and a group of terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

11 June: An RAF Reaper continued to hunt terrorist rocket and mortar teams around Qayyarah, conducting three attacks with Hellfire missiles.

12 June: Another Reaper patrolled over Qayyarah, and also fired three Hellfires, its targets were two terrorist vehicles and a group of Daesh fighters. Typhoons were also active nearby, and used Paveway IVs to attack two groups of terrorists caught in the open and two Daesh-held buildings. A Typhoon mission also joined Tornados operating over Fallujah; the Typhoons used one Paveway IV against a machine-gun position, whilst the Tornados delivered five very precise attacks in very demanding circumstances, with Iraqi troops extremely close to the terrorist targets. Paveway IVs were used to destroy a rocket team, an anti-tank gun, a heavily armed pick-up truck and a heavy machine-gun team, whilst a Brimstone missile silenced a light machine-gun.

During Sunday night, a pair of Tornados armed with 1000lb Enhanced Paveway II guided bombs conducted a carefully planned strike on a factory to the south-west of Qayyarah where truck-bombs were being built by Daesh. Four EPW IIs hit their targets accurately and initial reports suggest the mission was a success.

13 June: A pair of Typhoons assisted Iraqi troops as they engaged in very close combat inside Fallujah. Our aircraft delivered four precision attacks, all with Paveway IV guided bombs, that destroyed five strongpoints defended by Daesh terrorists armed with machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades and an anti-tank gun.

14 June: The Typhoons continued operations over Fallujah, and again worked very closely with the Iraqi units hitting five terrorist positions including sniper and machine-gun teams. In northern Iraq, around Qayyarah, a second Typhoon flight and a Reaper supported Iraqi and Kurdish units. The Typhoons attacked a Daesh-held building with a Paveway IV, while the Reaper conducted four attacks: a GBU-12 guided bomb was used against a group of terrorists gathered at a weapons stockpile, and three mortars were attacked in turn with Hellfire missiles. The Reaper also tracked the arrival of a truck-bomb and observed it being concealed inside a garage – this surveillance enabled a successful attack to then be delivered by a coalition aircraft which destroyed the vehicle.

15 June: Two Typhoon flights saw action over Fallujah on Wednesday, and between them they conducted seven successful attacks with Paveway IVs. Again all were in very close support of Iraqi ground forces, accounting for terrorist teams armed with heavy weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and a 23mm anti-aircraft gun.

16 June: With Iraqi forces making steady progress pushing into Fallujah, two flights of Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s contributed to the coalition's air support. Our aircraft successfully attacked four Daesh machine-gun positions that were identified by the Iraqi ground forces, using Paveway IV guided bombs.

17 June: An RAF Reaper patrolling over northern Iraq, north of Bayji. The Reaper's crew identified a large mortar and a Daesh truck, both were destroyed by Hellfire missiles.

18 June: A second Reaper operated in the same area, supporting an offensive by Iraqi forces. It used four Hellfires and a GBU-12 guided bomb to successfully engage three armed pick-up trucks which were firing at the Iraqi troops, a fourth vehicle and a trench position. In north-west Iraq, in Harunah, two pairs of Tornado GR4s, armed with eight 1000lb Enhanced Paveway IIs conducted a pre-planned strike on a complex of buildings which had been identified by intelligence as a headquarters, accommodation and weapons facility for Daesh foreign fighters. All four target buildings were destroyed. Another Reaper patrolled over Syria and attacked a Daesh vehicle south-west of Manbij, destroying it with a Hellfire missile.

19 June: Typhoons were in action over Fallujah, providing close air support to Iraqi troops who had penetrated to the city centre. Six terrorist strongpoints housing machine-gun, artillery and rocket-propelled grenade teams were struck in a series of precision Paveway attacks. In northern Iraq, a Reaper used a pair of Hellfires to engage two groups of Daesh extremists north of Bayji, while Tornados used a Brimstone missile against a third group in the same area, and a Paveway IV against a rocket-launcher north of Mosul.

20 June: An armed reconnaissance patrol by Tornados over eastern Syria used a Brimstone missile to attack a truck-bomb hidden under a tarpaulin between two ruined buildings north of Dayr az Zawr. The Brimstone scored a direct hit; a massive explosion followed, which confirmed how heavily the vehicle had been laden with explosives. Further west, near Raqqah, a Reaper conducted three attacks with Hellfire missiles against a Daesh vehicle and extremists on foot. Typhoons and Tornados were again active over Fallujah, and used Paveway IV bombs to destroy four Daesh machine-gun posts engaged in very close combat with the Iraqi security forces. Since the start of the operation to liberate Fallujah, RAF aircraft have prosecuted some 96 targets in and around the city and neighbouring areas in the Euphrates valley.

21 June: Reaper patrols north of Bayji continued, and five attacks were conducted in support of Iraqi offensive operations. Hellfires accounted for two supply vehicles and a truck armed with an anti-aircraft gun, as well as an observation post dug-in on a ridgeline. A GBU-12 guided bomb destroyed a Daesh mortar team, spotted as they fired at an Iraqi position. A Typhoon flight operated further north, north-west of Mosul, where they used a Paveway IV to hit a rocket-launcher site.

22 June: Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew close air support missions over Fallujah. They successfully attacked three Daesh strongpoints with Paveway IV guided bombs, the targets had been identified by Iraqi ground forces as being manned by machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade teams.

North of Bayji, Tornado GR4s and a Reaper supported an Iraqi offensive operation. The Tornados employed one Paveway IV and three Brimstone missiles to destroy four Daesh fighting positions along a defensive embankment, whilst the Reaper used a single GBU-12 guided bomb to destroy two more positions.

23 June: A second Reaper continued support in the area into Thursday and used a Hellfire missile to eliminate a terrorist spotted with a man portable surface-to-air missile. Typhoons continued their support over Fallujah as well, conducting a Paveway IV attack on a machine-gun team. Another Typhoon flight operated over northern Syria, close to the Turkish border and destroyed two Daesh-held buildings several miles east of Azaz.

24 June: A Reaper supported an Iraqi offensive near Sharqat, west of Kirkuk. Its crew used a Hellfire missile to destroy an engineering vehicle which was being used to create defences ahead of the Iraqi advance. Tornados patrolled further north and employed a Paveway IV against a mortar position north-west of Mosul.

Typhoons conducted further operations over Fallujah and were called in by the Iraqi army to destroy two machine-gun positions on the northern outskirts of the city. A total of 101 targets have been successfully prosecuted by the RAF in Fallujah and neighbouring areas since the start of the Iraqi operation to liberate the city.

25 June: A Reaper again on patrol near Sharqat, and this aircraft delivered three successful attacks with Hellfire missiles against a truck, a group of terrorists, and a van which Daesh had been seen loading with weapons and ammunition.

26 June: Intelligence had determined that Daesh were using a large concrete bunker in western Iraq as a weapons facility. Due to the massive construction, built during the Saddam era, it was decided to use four Stormshadow missiles against it, as the weapon has particularly good capabilities against such a challenging target. The missiles were launched by two Tornados, all four Stormshadows scored direct hits and penetrated deep within the bunker. Also in western Iraq, south-east of Hit, a Typhoon flight used a single Paveway IV to destroy a much smaller bunker built by Daesh south-east of Hit. In northern Iraq, a Reaper provided close air support near Sharqat for the third successive day, using its Hellfires to attack a vehicle, a group of terrorists on foot, and a team planting improvised explosive devices.

27 June: While Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s conducted reconnaissance missions to gather intelligence on Daesh activity, Typhoon FGR4s and Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided support to both Syrian democratic forces and Iraqi units. The same day, in Syria, a pair of Typhoons conducted a successful attack with Paveway IV guided bombs against a Daesh strongpoint on the south-western outskirts of Manbij.

28 June: Typhoons executed a similar attack against a mortar position close to Manbij. Over Iraq, a Reaper supported Iraqi ground forces near Sharqat in the north of the country. The Reaper used Hellfire missiles against two groups of extremists caught in the open, including a machine-gun team engaged in combat with the Iraqi troops.

29 June: Typhoons and Reapers conducted a number of attacks against Daesh terrorists fleeing in the face of Iraqi operations in Fallujah. A Typhoon struck two vehicles and a large group of extremists with Paveway IV bombs west of Fallujah and two Reapers destroyed a further four vehicles and a group of fighters, using Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb. One Reaper observed the Daesh vehicles refusing to stop and pick up fellow armed extremists trying to escape on foot. Another Reaper was active near Sharqat, where it destroyed two vehicles with Hellfire missiles and attacked a group of terrorists with a GBU-12 bomb.

30 June: With Daesh forces continuing to flee in defeat from their former stronghold of Fallujah, Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s patrolled over the desert of Anbar province and located a group of terrorist vehicles a number of miles to the south-west of Ramadi. Attacks with four Brimstone missiles and a Paveway IV guided bomb successfully accounted for five trucks. In northern Iraq, a pair of Typhoons used Paveway IVs to bomb two Daesh mortar teams some 25 miles south-east of Mosul, while a Reaper conducted two attacks with Hellfire missiles against terrorists fighting Iraqi forces near Qayyarah.

1 July: The following day, Tornados used a Paveway IV to destroy a Daesh defensive position in the Qayyarah area.

3 July: Two RAF Reapers provided close air support to Iraqi security forces mounting an offensive near Sharqat. The Reapers gave targeting and surveillance assistance to three air strikes by coalition fast jets and conducted seven attacks of their own. They used six Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb against various groups of Daesh extremists engaged in close combat with the Iraqi troops, and a truck. In north-western Iraq, a Tornado flight used a Paveway IV to destroy a Daesh-held building near Tal Afar, while Typhoons successfully targeted a tunnel and trench network south-east of Hit, striking with two Paveway IVs.

4 July: A pair of Typhoon FGR4s used Paveway IV guided bombs to destroy a number of rocket launchers near Qayyarah. The Typhoons then moved further north and attacked a terrorist muster point some 25 miles south-east of Mosul.

5 July: Typhoons were again active near Qayyarah where they conducted two successful Paveway IV attacks that destroyed a mortar team and a nearby ammunition stockpile. The Typhoons were two of the fifty coalition aircraft controlled over Syria and Iraq that day by an RAF Sentry E-3D, making its regular contribution to the coalition's command and control of a round-the-clock air campaign, and were, as ever, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker.

6 July: Tornado GR4s used Paveway IVs to strike a river crossing near Qayyarah which had been improvised by Daesh following successful coalition attacks against their supply routes. Meanwhile, a Reaper patrolled near Sharqat in support of Iraqi ground forces, and used Hellfire missiles against a motorcycle mounted terrorist observation team. It then struck a group of extremists identified manoeuvring in the open nearby.

7 July: In the early hours of Thursday, an RAF Reaper assisted Iraqi ground forces operating near Sharqat in the north of the country. The Reaper's crew conducted two successful precision attacks using Hellfire missiles against two small groups of Daesh extremists firing on the Iraqi troops from a fortified position. Having located a larger group of terrorists, the Reaper then provided targeting assistance to an attack by coalition fast jets.

In northern Iraq, Tornado GR4s dropped a Paveway IV guided bomb which destroyed a heavy position 15 miles east of Mosul. Typhoon FGR4s meanwhile patrolled to the north of Ramadi and used a Paveway IV against a group of Daesh fighters concealed in a tree line.

8 July: A Reaper again supported operations around Sharqat. It conducted four attacks, with three Hellfires and one GBU-12 guided bomb, against several groups of terrorists manoeuvring in a gully, and an ammunition truck which was being loaded with rocket-propelled grenades. Over Anbar province, Typhoons maintained their patrols along the Euphrates north and west of Ramadi and supported an Iraqi unit engaged in very close combat with three Daesh heavy machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade teams. Despite the proximity of the Iraqi troops, the three positions were successfully struck with Paveway IVs.

9 July: A Reaper employed a Hellfire to destroy a truck carrying a Daesh group north of Bayji.

10 July: Tornados conducted an armed reconnaissance mission in the Mosul area. North-west of the city, they used Paveway IVs to attack a command and control post, a mortar team, and a weapons cache, then used a Brimstone missile to destroy a second weapons stockpile. A second Tornado flight operated over Anbar province conducted four attacks with Brimstone missiles to destroy a group of engineering vehicles, which Daesh had mustered to construct positions 35 miles south-west of Ramadi.

11 July: Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol in the Sharqat area in support of Iraqi ground forces. Our aircraft were able to identify a mortar position and delivered a successful attack using a Paveway IV guided bomb.

12 July: Patrols by Paveway-armed Typhoon FGR4s continued over northern Iraq. One flight destroyed a heavily armed Daesh truck near Qayyarah, taking great care to avoid causing damage to a nearby mosque. Near Tal Afar a second Typhoon mission struck another armed truck concealed in a covered parking bay – a large secondary explosion followed as the vehicle's cargo of ammunition detonated.

That night close to the Iraqi border with Syria, a meeting of Daesh commanders was known to be in progress at Kerabilah and a pair of Tornados conducted an attack with a salvo of four Paveway IVs that completely demolished the building. The Tornados then flew north-east to the area north of Bayji and used Brimstone missiles to destroy two terrorist truck-bombs.

13 July: A Tornado mission also used Brimstones to destroy two 120mm heavy mortars some distance from Hit, whilst Typhoons destroyed a Daesh strong-point south of Sinjar using Paveway IVs.

14 July: Two Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s patrolling the Mosul area spotted Daesh personnel using a truck-mounted crane to perform maintenance work on an armoured vehicle. Paveway IV guided bombs destroyed both vehicles with direct hits.

15 July: Typhoons operating further west, conducted a Paveway bomb attack on a mortar position concealed in a tree-line a number of miles south of Sinjar.

17 July: Typhoons also patrolled over Anbar province in western Iraq. Some miles north-west of Ramadi, they observed a vehicle being loaded with weapons from a terrorist storehouse. A Paveway IV destroyed both the store and the supply truck.

18 July: Again in Anbar Province, Typhoons observed terrorist activity around a tent hidden in a dense palm grove. An attack with a Paveway IV not only struck the terrorists but also set fire to two stockpiles of ammunition and equipment and damaged a Daesh truck parked nearby, again under the trees.

19 July: Tornado GR4s used a Paveway IV against a mortar position near Qayyarah, while Typhoons employed a Paveway bomb to attack another mortar position south-east of Mosul.

20 July: Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, patrolled over northern Iraq. North of Mosul, a Daesh-held building was identified in the path of a Kurdish advance. This was successfully targeted by Tornados using a Paveway IV guided bomb.

21 July: Tornados again operated over northern Iraq. A Paveway IV bomb attack destroyed a Daesh-held building, along with a terrorist vehicle, a few miles to the south of Bashiqah.

22 July: RAF Typhoon FGR4s flew an armed reconnaissance mission along the Euphrates valley. They identified and struck a Daesh mortar team on the northern bank of the river with a Paveway IV.

23 July: Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have also continued to be very active in both their surveillance and attack roles over Iraq and Syria. A Reaper operated in close support of Iraqi ground forces in northern Iraq, around the Sharqat and Qayyarah areas. The Reaper's crew conducted a successful attack, using a Hellfire missile against a Daesh mortar team firing on the Iraqis. They also provided targeting support to several highly accurate strikes by both artillery and coalition fast jets, which destroyed a number of rocket launchers.

24 July: Another Reaper flew over northern Syria to support Syrian moderate opposition forces fighting Daesh terrorists along the so-called Mar'a Line. The Reaper used a Hellfire missile to destroy a terrorist position which had been firing at the Syrians. The Reaper then used its sensors to locate a second position, which was successfully struck by another coalition aircraft.

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