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Update: air strikes against Daesh

22 August 2016

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

Latest update

- Saturday 13 August – a Reaper supported Iraqi forces near Qayyarah, conducting its own attacks on Daesh and facilitating several more by other coalition aircraft.
- Sunday 14 August – another Reaper continued to provide support around Qayyarah, attacking a further two targets.
- Monday 15 August – Typhoons bombed a terrorist mortar position in western Iraq.
- Tuesday 16 August – Tornados attacked a heavy artillery piece south of Manbij whilst a Reaper destroyed a truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun in south-eastern Syria.
- Wednesday 17 August – Typhoons destroyed an armed truck in western Iraq, a Reaper eliminated a group of Daesh extremists in northern Iraq.
- Thursday 18 August – Tornados attacked two terrorist positions in northern Iraq.
- Friday 19 August – Tornados and a Reaper accounted for a number of rocket-launchers and mortars near Qayyarah in northern Iraq.
- Saturday 20 August – a Reaper destroyed another terrorist mortar team near Qayyarah.
- Sunday 21 August – Tornados struck a terrorist group and a tank in northern Iraq, whilst Typhoons bombed an armed truck in western Iraq.


A Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided overwatch to Iraqi ground forces clearing terrorist positions in the Qayyarah region of northern Iraq on Saturday 13 August. A number of groups of Daesh fighters, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, were active in the area, but were tracked down by the Reaper's crew using the aircraft's very capable surveillance sensors. Three successful attacks were conducted using the Reaper's own Hellfire missiles, and the Reaper also made possible a further five attacks by coalition fast jets, which accounted for other groups of fighters, two vehicles and a mortar team. A second Reaper ensured that the Iraqi units continued to receive close support into Sunday 14 August, and this aircraft delivered two Hellfire attacks, again on Daesh rocket-propelled grenade teams.

Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager tanker, patrolled over western Iraq on Monday 15 August. Some miles north of Ramadi, they used a Paveway IV guided bomb against a terrorist mortar position. Tornado GR4s and a Reaper conducted armed reconnaissance patrols over Syria on Tuesday 16 August; a coalition surveillance aircraft spotted a Daesh heavy artillery piece to the south of Manbij, and the Tornados were tasked to deal with it. The gun and an ammunition stockpile were concealed within a treeline at the edge of a road, but a pair of Paveway IVs struck their targets. The Reaper operated over south-eastern Syria, where it used a Hellfire to destroy an anti-aircraft gun mounted on a truck, around 40 miles north of Al Tanf.

A Reaper was again in action near Qayyarah on Wednesday 17 August, when it successfully engaged yet another group of Daesh terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades; a number of secondary explosions followed the impact of the Hellfire missile as the grenades caught fire. Typhoons also continued their patrols over western Iraq, along the Euphrates valley to the north-west of Ramadi, and here they used a Paveway IV to destroy an armed truck which the extremists had tried in vain to conceal under a large vehicle shelter.

Thursday 18 August saw Tornados operating over northern Iraq. A coalition aircraft spotted a group of extremists hidden in a position beneath trees on the southern bank of the Great Zab River, and these were successfully attacked by the GR4s using a Paveway IV. The Tornados then conducted a further such attack on a Daesh machine-gun position, several miles to the south of Sinjar. The following day, a Reaper and a pair of Tornados worked together near Qayyarah against a number of terrorist rocket and mortar teams. The Reaper observed a mortar firing from a compound at Iraqi forces, and responded with a successful Hellfire missile attack. The Reaper then provided support to the Tornados as they used a pair of Paveway IVs against a widely dispersed group of rocket-launchers. The Tornados also used a Brimstone missile to destroy a second mortar team, and another Paveway IV to strike an additional set of rocket rails.

Another Reaper patrolled over Qayyarah on Saturday 20 August, again hunting for a reported mortar team. The target was tracked down and successfully prosecuted using a Hellfire. On Sunday 21 August, a Typhoon flight bombed an armed truck a few miles to the north-west of Ramadi, on the northern bank of the Euphrates, while Tornados were active once more over northern Iraq; a Paveway IV attack struck a terrorist position to the south-west of Kirkuk, and a Brimstone missile was used to destroy a T-62 tank operated by Daesh to the north of Mosul.

Previous air strikes

Tuesday 2 August: With Iraqi ground forces continuing their offensive to clear Daesh from the area around Qayyarah, a Royal Air Force Reaper provided close air support. The Reaper observed terrorists attempting to salvage a heavy machine-gun from a truck that had been hit by a previous coalition strike and successfully engaged them with a Hellfire missile. A second group of extremists were also attacked with another Hellfire. UK aircraft then provided targeting support that allowed a coalition fast jet to destroy a mortar team. Over Syria, a pair of Typhoons were similarly supporting the Syrian democratic forces as they fought to secure Manbij. A number of buildings on the south-western edge of the town had been fortified by Daesh as a major defensive position. These were successfully struck by the Typhoons, using eight Paveway IV guided bombs, despite the proximity of the moderate Syrian forces.

Wednesday 3 August: Tornados destroyed a Daesh mortar position while patrolling the north and west of Mosul.

Thursday 4 August: Tornados were again active over northern Iraq and conducted a Paveway IV attack on a machine-gun position in the hills to the north-west of Tall Afar. Meanwhile, Typhoons destroyed two Daesh-held buildings in western Iraq, while assisting Iraqi forces in the Euphrates Valley.

Sunday 7 August: Daesh were observed to be attempting to extract oil from one of the eastern Syrian oilfields which had been successfully targeted by previous coalition air strikes earlier this year. Two Tornados attacked a convoy of tankers north of Abu Kamal. Four Paveway IVs and four Brimstone missiles accounted for a number of vehicles, denying the terrorists the oil revenue they desperately seek. In northern Iraq, a Reaper and Typhoons were again supporting the Iraqi operations around Qayyarah. The Reaper conducted Hellfire attacks on a mortar team that was firing on the Iraqis and on a set of rocket rails. It then helped other coalition aircraft to successfully target an improvised armoured vehicle. The Typhoons also used three Paveway IVs to destroy three Daesh-held buildings.

Monday 8 August: A Reaper flew overwatch for Iraqi ground forces operating near Qayyarah in northern Iraq on and used a Hellfire missile to destroy a terrorist vehicle as it was tracked at speed along an open road. To the east of Mosul, a light artillery piece had been identified, positioned within a building. This was successfully attacked by Typhoons with a Paveway IV guided bomb.

Tuesday 9 August: Typhoons were active over the same area, conducting attacks with Paveway IVs which destroyed three Daesh-held buildings and a vehicle some 20 miles south-east of Mosul. The same day, a Reaper was again assigned to support Iraqi operations near Qayyarah. Its crew observed a Daesh team setting up a mortar and attacked with a Hellfire. It then used a second missile to destroy a mechanical excavator which was being used to help plant improvised explosive devices and tear up the carriageway of the main highway, in an attempt to hamper the Iraqi advance.

Wednesday 10 August: A Reaper patrolled over Manbij, where Syrian democratic forces have cleared Daesh from much of the town. The Reaper intervened in close combat that developed just to the north of Manbij and successfully used Hellfires to clear two groups of extremists engaged in a fire fight with the Syrian moderates. Over Iraq, Typhoons bombed an armed truck concealed under trees some miles to the south-east of Hit. A number of secondary explosions followed as associated ammunition caught fire.

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