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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

28 September 2016

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

Latest update

- Friday 23 September – Typhoons struck two mortar positions in western Iraq, while a Reaper destroyed a truck loaded with rockets in the north.

- Saturday 24 September – a Reaper provided close air support to Iraqi operations in the Tigris valley and conducted four attacks on terrorist targets.

- Sunday 25 September – a Reaper again patrolled the northern Tigris valley, delivering four further attacks.

- Monday 26 September – Tornados destroyed two Daesh vehicles in the Qayyarah region, a Reaper destroyed another vehicle near Sharqat, and Typhoons bombed a terrorist position east of Mosul.

- Tuesday 27 September – Typhoons hit one mortar team near Qayyarah, and a second mortar team and an artillery piece to the north of Mosul.

Detail

Operations by the Iraqi army to clear the Tigris valley south of Mosul continue. On Friday 23 September, a Royal Air Force Reaper scouted ahead of the Iraqi advance near al Hawd. The Reaper's crew spotted a Daesh truck on the move, loaded with rockets. A direct hit from a Hellfire missile on the driver's cab and engine brought the vehicle to an immediate halt and a second missile safely destroyed its cargo. In western Iraq, two Typhoons patrolled to the north-west of Ramadi, where they used a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs against two terrorist mortar positions located within a palm grove.

On Saturday 24 September, a Reaper was again flown over the Tigris, near Qayyarah, where it provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike that destroyed a Daesh headquarters. The Reaper then turned its attention to several groups of extremists out in the open. Hellfire attacks struck one mortar team and two groups of terrorists. A few survivors of the attacks then boarded a motorboat, hoping to make their escape across the Tigris, but a fourth Hellfire sank them at the mooring.

On Sunday 25 September, a Reaper was again back in the skies near Qayyarah where it conducted four attacks on Daesh targets using its Hellfire weapons. Another mortar was destroyed, and three missiles eliminated a group of terrorists engaged in a close quarters fight with Iraqi troops.

The following day, Tornados used an Enhanced Paveway II guided bomb against a truck-bomb near Qayyarah and a Brimstone missile to destroy a light truck in the same area. Further south in the valley, near Sharqat, a Reaper destroyed another Daesh vehicle and then supported a coalition attack on an additional truck-bomb. Meanwhile, Typhoons operated to the east of Mosul, where a Paveway IV was used against a Daesh-held building.

Two flights of Paveway IV-armed Typhoons continued operations in northern Iraq on Tuesday 27 September. They conducted successful strikes on a mortar team near Qayyarah, plus a second mortar and an artillery piece 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.

Saturday 13 August: A Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided overwatch to Iraqi ground forces clearing terrorist positions in the Qayyarah region of northern Iraq. 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.

Sunday 14 August: A second Reaper ensured that the Iraqi units continued to receive close support and this aircraft delivered two Hellfire attacks, again on Daesh rocket-propelled grenade teams.

Monday 15 August: Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager tanker, patrolled over western Iraq. Some miles north of Ramadi, they used a Paveway IV guided bomb against a terrorist mortar position.

Tuesday 16 August: Tornado GR4s and a Reaper conducted armed reconnaissance patrols over Syria; 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.

Wednesday 17 August: A Reaper was again in action near Qayyarah, 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: 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.

Friday 19 August: 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.

Saturday 20 August: Another Reaper patrolled over Qayyarah, again hunting for a reported mortar team. The target was tracked down and successfully prosecuted using a Hellfire.

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.

Monday 22 August: Two Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s operated over northern Iraq. A group of Daesh extremists had been located, sheltering in a cave amongst hills on the southern bank of the Tigris, overlooking the river, some miles to the north-west of Mosul. The Typhoons used one Paveway IV guided bomb to attack the cave entrance, and a second to destroy the terrorists' vehicle, parked on a nearby track.

Wednesday 24 August: Iraqi security forces continue to mount offensive operations against Daesh near Qayyarah, and they were well supported by coalition aircraft, including an RAF Reaper and a pair of Tornado GR4s. The GR4s were primarily deployed in the reconnaissance role, but conducted two attacks with Brimstone missiles against terrorists engaged in combat with the Iraqi troops. The Reaper provided surveillance support to other coalition aircraft which delivered an air strike on a Daesh strongpoint, and carried out five attacks with its own weaponry: four Hellfire missiles accounted for two mortar teams and two groups of terrorists manoeuvring along narrow alleyways, and a GBU-12 laser guided bomb destroyed several rocket-launchers which another coalition surveillance aircraft had spotted set up outside the town.

Thursday 25 August: Typhoons, supported as is normal by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, patrolled the Euphrates valley west of Ramadi, where they used a Paveway IV to attack a Daesh-held building on the northern river-bank. Over Syria, a pair of Tornados used two Brimstone missiles to engage a number of terrorists spotted occupying positions under trees in farmland in the east of the country.

Saturday 27 August: A Reaper supported the Iraqi security forces advancing near Qayyarah. The aircraft spotted a heavy vehicle transporter being used by Daesh to move one of the mechanical excavators that are used to construct their fortified positions. Both the transporter and the excavator were destroyed by coalition fast jets, guided to the scene by the Reaper. The Reaper crew subsequently tracked an armed Daesh truck withdrawing from a nearby compound and attempted to conceal the vehicle in shed. A direct hit from a Hellfire missile destroyed the building and the truck inside.

Sunday 28 August: A Typhoon patrol over western Iraq used a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs to destroy a dispersed group of rocket-launching rails hidden amidst trees on the northern bank of the Euphrates.

Monday 29 August: Typhoons operating ten miles north of Mosul delivered a Paveway attack on a bunker and tunnel network. A number of secondary explosions ensued, most likely from stored ammunition.

Tuesday 30 August: Typhoons operating over the same area north of Mosul conducted successful attacks with Paveway IVs on a further three tunnels. An excavator preparing defences nearby was also destroyed.

Wednesday 31 August: A Typhoon patrol found its target 15 miles to the east of Mosul, where advancing Iraqi forces had identified a Daesh-held building. It was hit with a Paveway IV leading to number of secondary explosions.

Thursday 1 September: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft operated over Raqqa in Syria, where its crew helped identify a large stockpile of explosive materials at an industrial site, awaiting the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and other home-made weaponry. An attack using Hellfire missiles destroyed much of the stockpile, and left the remainder on fire. Near Qayyarah, Tornados providing close air support to Iraqi ground forces conducted a successful Paveway IV attack against a weapons cache hidden in a line of trees.

Saturday 3 September: A Reaper kept close watch on a Daesh vehicle check-point in north-western Iraq, in the Tall Afar region, which was being used by the terrorists to harass local civilian traffic. The Reaper's crew waited patiently until there were no civilian vehicles in the area, then destroyed the check-point with a direct hit from a Hellfire.

Sunday 4 September: Typhoons patrolled over western Iraq and engaged a group of terrorists who had been spotted several miles north of Ramadi. Although they attempted to seek cover beneath some trees, the extremists were struck accurately by a Paveway IV.

Tuesday 6 September: Qayyarah remains the focus for significant Iraqi offensive operations, and Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to contribute to the supporting coalition air effort. Two Tornado GR4s used Paveway IV guided bombs and Brimstone missiles to attack a large dispersed group of mechanical excavators and heavy trucks being used by Daesh to construct defensive positions in the area; at least seven vehicles were destroyed outright.

Thursday 8 September: Tornados continued operations over northern Iraq. Intelligence had identified a bomb-making factory and associated terrorist training facility in neighbouring compounds to the west of Tall Afar. A pair of Tornados struck both targets accurately with Paveway IVs, then proceeded to provide close air support to local Iraqi forces, in the course of which they conducted a further successful Paveway attack against two rocket launchers. A second pair of Tornados meanwhile patrolled east of Mosul, where they used Paveway IVs against two groups of Daesh extremists who had been spotted by a coalition surveillance aircraft.

Friday 9 September: Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to engage a howitzer which Daesh were attempting to bring into position some miles north of Ramadi. The artillery piece and its towing vehicle were well-concealed under trees, but the Typhoons were nevertheless able to score a direct hit with a Paveway IV. Near Qayyarah, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft spotted a mortar team as they uncovered their weapon and began firing at Iraqi positions, but a Hellfire missile quickly removed the threat.

Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September: Reaper operations over Qayyarah continued. On Saturday, a Reaper used a Hellfire to destroy a vehicle-borne mortar team, then located a large group of twelve rocket launchers being readied for firing. A Hellfire from the Reaper killed the terrorist who was preparing the weapons for launch, and the Reaper was then able to guide a coalition jet to the scene, so that it could use its larger guided bombs to destroy the rocket launchers. The following day, another Reaper successfully used a Hellfire against a further terrorist mortar team near Qayyarah. In eastern Syria, Tornados provided support to the Syrian democratic forces by using a salvo of four Paveway IVs to demolish a large building in which Daesh fighters, including snipers, had fortified themselves.

Iraqi ground forces, having liberated first the nearby airfield, then the town of Qayyarah from Daesh, continue to conduct offensive operations in the surrounding area and north towards Al Hawd. They have been well supported by coalition aircraft, with Royal Air Force Reapers putting their ability to remain on patrol for extended periods of time to valuable use in hunting down Daesh mortar teams attempting to conduct harassing fire against the Iraqi advance. On Monday 12 September, one Reaper successfully located and attacked, using Hellfire missiles, three different terrorist mortars near Qayyarah.

Wednesday 14 September: Another Reaper accounted for a further two mortar teams, one near Qayyarah, the other closer to Al Hawd. The same day, Typhoon FGR4s patrolled further north, around Mosul; south-east of the city, they were tasked to engage two Daesh-held buildings which Iraqi forces had encountered out in the countryside. Both targets were demolished using Paveway IV guided bombs.

Thursday 15 September: A Reaper tracked terrorists carrying mortar ammunition near Al Hawd. The terrorists led them to a concealed mortar, which was duly struck with a Hellfire. In western Iraq, a group of Daesh had been identified hiding in a cave some ten miles south-east of Haditha; two Typhoons scored a direct hit on the cave entrance with one Paveway IV, then used a second to destroy their truck parked some distance away.

Friday 16 September: Tornado GR4s patrolled the Euphrates valley in western Iraq. North-west of Ramadi, they successfully attacked, using Paveway IV guided bombs, a Daesh-held building.

Saturday 17 September: a Reaper joined other coalition aircraft in a strike against a reported Daesh position south of Dayr az Zawr in Syria, but this was later alleged to have in fact been a position held by Syrian regime forces; a detailed investigation into the incident is being conducted by the coalition. In Iraq, however, a second Reaper provided effective close air support to Iraqi forces operating near Qayyarah. The Reaper provided surveillance support to two successful coalition air strikes on Daesh mortar teams, then used its own Hellfire missiles to destroy a 152mm howitzer and its tow vehicle.

Sunday 18 September: A Reaper was again active near Qayyarah when it destroyed a terrorist truck with a Hellfire missile. To the north of Mosul, Tornados employed an Enhanced Paveway II and a Paveway IV to strike a Daesh strongpoint and an armed truck, then used a second Paveway IV to attack a group of terrorists on foot. Intelligence had identified a Daesh facility in western Iraq, close to the Syrian border, and Typhoon FGR4s used three Paveway IV bombs against this target, then provided close air support to Iraqi forces operating north-west of Ramadi: three more Paveway IVs accounted for a group of rocket launchers and a weapons cache.

Monday 19 September: Operations in the area north of Ramadi continued when Tornados used an Enhanced Paveway II guided bomb to destroy a Daesh supply store, and two Paveway IVs to destroy a neighbouring headquarters. Tornados also operated over north-western Iraq, where a Brimstone missile was used to destroy a terrorist vehicle spotted some ten miles north-west of Tall Afar. Paveway IV-armed Typhoons bombed a Daesh fuel store north of Ramadi on Tuesday 20 September, whilst a Reaper flew overwatch for an Iraqi army brigade as it advanced near Sharqat. The Reaper provided support to two coalition air attacks which destroyed a truck bomb, another terrorist vehicle and a large group of extremists, then used a GBU-12 guided bomb to conduct its own attack on a further group of insurgents spotted in the open. The Reaper's crew tracked two terrorists as they went to a building and collected a second truck-bomb which was concealed under a carport, then followed the truck-bomb as it was driven away from an inhabited area. As the truck-bomb rendezvoused with another Daesh vehicle, it was struck with a Hellfire missile. Both vehicles were destroyed by the subsequent blast.

Wednesday 21 September: A Reaper and two flights of Tornados again provided close air support to Iraqi forces near Sharqat. A Hellfire from the Reaper killed a number of terrorists and badly damaged their nearby vehicle, while a Brimstone and two Paveway IVs from the Tornados struck another two groups of terrorists and a truck. The Tornados also used a Paveway IV to sink a barge that was being used to ferry a truck-bomb across the Tigris. A Reaper patrolled over eastern Syria and north-western Iraq, and destroyed a terrorist check-point in the Tall Afar region with a Hellfire. In western Iraq, Typhoons bombed a bunker on the northern bank of the Euphrates.

Thursday 22 September: Operations near Sharqat and Qayyarah continued. South-west of Sharqat, a Reaper kept watch as a terrorist truck collected weapons and equipment from three different locations; it was then destroyed with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper's crew then tracked a second vehicle, waited until the Daesh occupants got out, and struck them with another Hellfire. A Tornado mission conducted a successful Brimstone attack on an armed truck hidden in a culvert beneath a railway line near Qayyarah, then flew to the north-east of Mosul where a Paveway IV was used to destroy a Daesh-held building.



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