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Update: air strikes against Daesh

2 November 2016

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

Latest update

- Friday 28 October – Tornados worked with a Reaper to attack Daesh on the eastern outskirts of Mosul.

- Saturday 29 October – A Reaper provided close air support to Iraqi forces in the Tigris valley south of Mosul.

- Sunday 30 October – A Reaper attacked terrorist positions east of Mosul.

- Monday 31 October – Tornados used Storm Shadow missiles against bunkers in western Iraq, while a Reaper supported Iraqi forces around Bazwaya.

- Tuesday 1 November – Tornados destroyed two Daesh machine-gun teams north of Mosul, while a Reaper attacked targets to the south-east.


With Iraqi forces closing in on the eastern edge of Mosul, a pair of Royal Air Force Tornados and a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft targeted Daesh terrorists in the area on Friday 28 October. The Reaper identified an artillery piece which several extremists were loading onto a large flat-bed lorry. The Reaper provided targeting support which allowed the Paveway-armed Tornados to destroy both the gun and the vehicle. The Reaper also supported a follow-up attack by coalition aircraft which destroyed an ammunition truck nearby. It then delivered its own strike with a Hellfire missile, which safely detonated a large truck-bomb hidden in trees.

On Saturday 29 October, a Reaper patrolled south of Mosul, along the Tigris valley. West of Guwayr, the Reaper spotted a group of terrorists with rocket-propelled grenades firing at Iraqi troops, and was able to deliver a successful attack with a Hellfire. A second Hellfire accounted for a Daesh heavy weapons team, and our aircraft was also able to provide targeting for a coalition aircraft which killed a number of terrorists manoeuvring through woodland.

A Reaper was again in action east of Mosul on Sunday 30 October. Its crew successfully hunted down a mortar which had been firing on Iraqi positions. The mortar was subsequently destroyed by coalition fast jets. The Reaper used Hellfire missiles against a pair of terrorists moving at high speed on a motorcycle and a team armed with a recoilless anti-tank gun. It then facilitated three further coalition attacks against groups of terrorists, including another recoilless anti-tank weapon crew.

On Monday 31 October, Tornados joined coalition aircraft from a number of other countries in a major coordinated attack on a former Iraqi military depot near Haditha in western Iraq. Intelligence had established that Daesh had set up workshops manufacturing weapons in a number of the bunkers at the site. The Tornados used Storm Shadow missiles, chosen because of their enhanced penetrative capabilities, to target several of these bunkers. Initial reports indicate that this large-scale coalition attack was a success. Operations around Mosul were not neglected however, with a Reaper supporting Iraqi troops as they cleared the village of Bazwaya, just to the east of the city. A Hellfire missile destroyed an armed truck, and the Reaper was also able to assist coalition air attacks against a mortar team and another Daesh position.

Tornados patrolled north of Mosul on Tuesday 1 November, where they supported advancing Kurdish forces. A Paveway IV guided bomb destroyed a Daesh heavy machine-gun position when it opened fire on the Peshmerga, while an Enhanced Paveway II demolished a building in which a light machine-gun was sited. Meanwhile, to the south-east of the city, a Reaper provided further close air support to Iraqi troops. It conducted Hellfire attacks on a mortar team who were spotted firing, and two groups of terrorists, including individuals with rocket-propelled grenades. The Reaper also directed a successful coalition air attack onto a number of terrorists defending a trench network.

Previous air strikes

Saturday 1 October: A Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike north-west of Mosul. It then used one of its own Hellfires to attack a Daesh position.

Sunday 2 October: A Reaper was again active north of Mosul, near Tall Kayf. A Hellfire destroyed a digger which was being used by the terrorists to construct a defensive position. To the east of Mosul, Tornados used an Enhanced Paveway II bomb and a Paveway IV to attack a headquarters building and a group of Daesh extremists. The same day, to the south-east of Mosul, near Qaraqosh, Typhoons used Paveway IVs in a simultaneous attack on three Daesh-held buildings where a large group of fighters had assembled, including local commanders. A second Typhoon pair meanwhile operated over a large swathe of Iraqi territory. North of Ramadi, they destroyed a mortar team. They then headed north to the Bayji area where further Paveway attacks dealt with a terrorist strongpoint and transport vehicle.

Monday 3 October: Royal Air Force Typhoons provided close air support to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), attacking Daesh positions in eastern Syria. A group of terrorists were identified holding a building in a rural area. The SDF held back while the Typhoons conducted a successful strike, demolishing the target with Paveway IV guided bombs. Across the border in northern Iraq, Tornados provided support to Iraqi forces clearing Daesh from the Tigris valley south of Mosul. The aircraft used another Paveway IV to destroy a terrorist communications installation north of Al Hawd.

Tuesday 4 October: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducted armed reconnaissance north of Mosul. The Reaper's crew located a large fuel tanker dug-in as part of the defensive positions constructed by Daesh near Batnay. The tanker was burning oil to create a smoke screen in order to shield Daesh fighters against attacking ground forces. The Reaper scored a direct hit with a GBU-12 guided bomb. The Reaper then provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike against nearby positions.

Wednesday 5 October: Tornados were again in action south of Mosul, where they bombed an armed truck. In central Iraq, Typhoons attacked a small group of terrorists who had been spotted north of Taji. Working in close concert with a coalition surveillance aircraft, the Typhoons successfully killed the extremists with two Paveway IV attacks.

Thursday 6 October: With Iraqi operations to isolate Mosul continuing, Royal Air Force aircraft continued to provide close air support on. To the north and west of the city, a Reaper successfully engaged with Hellfire missiles both a mortar team and a group of terrorists caught in the open. The same day, a Tornado mission used an Enhanced Paveway II guided bomb against the entrance to a Daesh tunnel network. In eastern Syria, Typhoons used a Paveway IV guided bomb in a successful attack on a Daesh command post.

Friday 7 October: Typhoons patrolled over western Iraq, where they used Paveway IVs to destroy two trucks carrying Daesh extremists as they drove along a desert track. In the Tigris valley south of Mosul, two Tornado flights supported Iraqi troops near Al Hawd and Sharqat. A Brimstone missile attack from one Tornado pair eliminated a mortar position, while the second pair used two Paveway IVs and a Brimstone in three attacks which accounted for a large, dispersed group of terrorists on the river bank.

Sunday 9 October: Tornados continued their work over the Tigris, when they destroyed a mortar team and a nearby ammunition stockpile near Qayyarah, with a pair of Paveway IVs. North of Mosul, a Reaper worked alongside two Typhoons. The Reaper provided surveillance support to a highly effective artillery bombardment that destroyed a Daesh training camp. It then tracked two terrorists as they moved to a rocket launching position, where they were seen working under the cover of some trees. A Hellfire missile killed the terrorists and the Typhoons then followed up with a Paveway IV attack to destroy the rockets.

Coalition aircraft have been providing intensive air support to Iraqi ground forces as they work to isolate Daesh terrorists holding Mosul. The Royal Air Force has been heavily committed to this operation, with Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper aircraft providing close air support, and Airseeker and Sentinel strategic surveillance aircraft gathering intelligence. On the ground British military instructors are, with coalition colleagues, helping train, mentor and equip many of the forces engaged in the Mosul operation.

Welcoming the start of operations to liberate Mosul, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

Daesh are on the back foot. The beginning of the encirclement of Mosul today is a big moment in our efforts to rid Iraq of Daesh. Mosul is a large and complex city and operations there will be tough but with Coalition support Iraqi forces will prevail.

Alongside our Coalition partners, the UK will continue to play a leading role in the air and on the ground, including through our strike missions, specialised surveillance, humanitarian support and the mentoring and training of Iraqi forces.

Monday 10 October: A pair of Typhoons from RAF Akrotiri used two Paveway IV guided bombs to destroy the entrances to tunnels beneath an embankment near Qaraqosh. They then flew to the north-west of Mosul where they used another Paveway to silence a mortar team on the northern bank of the Tigris, which had been firing on the advancing Kurdish forces. To the north-east of the city, two Tornados used an Enhanced Paveway II to destroy a terrorist anti-tank missile position. They then followed up with a Paveway IV to ensure the destruction of an associated ammunition supply point.

Tuesday 11 October: Tornados conducted another successful attack north-west of Mosul on a tunnel, which had been identified as a weapons cache.

Wednesday 12 October: An intensive series of strikes in northern Iraq. North of Mosul, near Tall Kayf, a Reaper scored a direct hit with a Hellfire missile on an artillery piece hidden beneath a tarpaulin. A Tornado pair used a Brimstone missile to destroy a rocket-armed truck in the Qayyarah region, while Typhoons bombed a mortar team north-east of Mosul. The Tornado and Typhoon flights then combined for a joint attack near Qaraqosh on a set of workshops manufacturing explosives. Seven Enhanced Paveway II and Paveway IV bombs, plus a Brimstone, were used to destroy the facility and a number of Daesh vehicles at the site. A second combined Tornado and Typhoon flight meanwhile headed to the south-west of Kirkuk, where they destroyed a truck-bomb facility with Enhanced Paveway II and Paveway IV weapons.

Friday 14 October: North-west of Mosul, Paveway IV-armed Typhoons successfully bombed five rocket launchers. They then moved to support a Reaper which had located a terrorist mortar position and ammunition stockpile. The Reaper attacked the mortar with a GBU-12 guided bomb, and the Typhoons followed up with a strike on the munitions stockpile.

Sunday 16 October: A Reaper again patrolled to the north-west of Mosul, where it engaged an artillery piece with a Hellfire, then provided targeting support to three attacks by coalition fast jets on terrorist mortar positions. One flight of Typhoons operated to the west of Mosul, using Paveway IVs to destroy two Daesh-held buildings, while a second flight operated to the east, attacking four terrorist positions.

Monday 17 October: A Reaper kept close watch on Daesh positions near Qaraqosh to the south-east of Mosul. Our aircraft provided surveillance support to a coalition fast jet attack on a terrorist mortar team. The Reaper then conducted attacks using its own weapons on four targets. These attacks included a GBU-12 guided bomb, which accounted for a mortar. Hellfire missiles also destroyed an armed truck and two heavy weapons teams, including one armed with a recoilless anti-tank gun which had opened fire on the advancing Iraqis. To the south of the city, a Typhoon flight was able to use a Paveway IV guided bomb to dispose safely of a large truck-bomb before it could be used.

Tuesday 18 October: A Reaper was again in action south-east of Mosul on Tuesday 18 October. A Hellfire missile killed a group of terrorists engaged in combat with Iraqi troops. A second Hellfire also accounted for another group of extremists as they moved between positions, and a third destroyed an armed truck. North-east of the city, a pair of Typhoons used Paveway IVs to destroy a number of improvised explosive devices laid in a defensive belt, as well as a weapons stockpile and a Daesh strong-point.

Wednesday 19 October: A Reaper scouted ahead of Iraqi troops advancing to the south-east of the city. A terrorist rocket-propelled grenade team were identified and eliminated using a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then provided surveillance support to two successful attacks by coalition fast jets on larger groups of terrorists, before conducting a further Hellfire attack itself. The aircraft's surveillance sensors then spotted a large armoured truck-bomb emerging from cover and being driven at speed towards an Iraqi unit. An immediate attack with a Hellfire missile struck the vehicle, which crashed out of control, and the would-be suicide bomber abandoned the truck and fled. Another group of terrorists were later identified and attacked with a fourth Hellfire. Meanwhile, to the north of Mosul, Paveway IV-armed Typhoons destroyed two Daesh-held buildings.

Thursday 20 October: Reaper support to the south-east of Mosul continued. Hellfire missiles destroyed a truck-mounted heavy machine-gun and another vehicle which had been spotted being loaded with a mortar and ammunition. Two more Daesh mortar teams were destroyed with a further Hellfire and a GBU-12 guided bomb. In the Tigris valley south of Mosul, a Tornado flight intervened in a combat between Iraqi troops and a dispersed group of terrorists. Two Paveway IVs accounted for the extremists. Meanwhile, two flights of Typhoons patrolled the northern arc around Mosul, where they engaged seven terrorist targets with Paveway IVs. These included: a rocket-launcher north-west of the city, a sniper team and a Daesh-held building to the north, and to the north-east a pair of heavy machine-guns, a strongpoint, and a command post which was controlling truck-bomb attacks.

Friday 21 October: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled north of Mosul, using a Hellfire missile to destroy a Daesh mortar that had opened fire on Kurdish troops. The Reaper then moved south-east to support operations around Qaraqosh, where a coalition aircraft had spotted a fortified tunnel entrance. The Reaper's crew were able to destroy this with a direct hit from a GBU-12 guided bomb. Meanwhile, Typhoons from RAF Akrotiri, operated to the north and east of the city. Near Khursabad, they worked in close cooperation with a coalition surveillance aircraft to destroy a second tunnel entrance, in which terrorists were known to be hiding. To the north of Mosul, they attacked two mortar teams and a heavy machine-gun, and, near Bartallah, they destroyed an armoured truck-bomb positioned in the path of the advancing Iraqi troops. Further south, in the Tigris valley, a pair of Tornados used a Brimstone missile to destroy an armed truck. They then used a second Brimstone to engage a group of terrorists operating amongst houses south-east of Mosul. No collateral damage was caused.

Saturday 22 October: a Reaper flew overwatch for the Iraqi troops in and around Qaraqosh as they cleared remaining Daesh positions. The Reaper's crew used a Hellfire missile against several terrorists engaged in a firefight with the Iraqis. A second Hellfire then destroyed an anti-aircraft gun positioned in the street. A terrorist mortar was reported firing on friendly forces, and the Reaper successfully hunted this down and eliminated the threat with a GBU-12 guided bomb. A van was spotted supplying terrorist positions and was destroyed with a Hellfire, and a fourth missile accounted for another group of extremists caught in the open.

Sunday 23 October: Reaper operations continued, where one of our aircraft conducted a Hellfire attack on a truck loaded with terrorists. A second Hellfire killed other terrorists as they attempted to hide from the aircraft beneath a staircase in a ruined building. The Reaper employed a GBU-12 bomb to destroy a heavy machine-gun that was firing on Iraqi troops, then used a third Hellfire to destroy a well dug-in mortar near Bartallah. North-east of Mosul, a pair of Typhoons used two Paveway IVs to destroy a pair of machine-gun positions, then carried out a simultaneous attack against a total of five Daesh positions – two sniper teams, two mortars and another machine-gun – spread across a couple of miles of the front line. All five targets were struck accurately by Paveway IVs. An eighth Paveway was then used to destroy another mortar team. A second Typhoon flight was also active in the area, working closely with coalition surveillance aircraft, and dropped Paveway IVs against two Daesh strongpoints. Tornados also patrolled north-east of Mosul. The aircraft delivered attacks with an Enhanced Paveway II and two Paveway IVs that destroyed a machine-gun team, a terrorist defensive position and an armed truck.

Monday 24 October: A Tornado armed reconnaissance mission north-east of Mosul was diverted to deal with a terrorist team which a coalition aircraft had spotted planting booby-traps and improvised explosive devices. The team were struck by a 1000 lb Enhanced Paveway II bomb. Typhoons flew in the same area, using a Paveway IV against terrorists engaged in close combat with friendly forces, then, through heavy cloud, delivering a simultaneous strike against four sniper positions. The Iraqi forces reported direct hits on all four targets. Meanwhile, a Reaper flew further support as the Iraqis pushed on from Qaraqosh and Bartallah, and in the course of its mission the aircraft delivered five attacks. Two Hellfire missiles accounted for a terrorist group and a dug-in mortar. The Reaper then observed a number of Daesh fighters travelling on motorcycles, and followed them until they joined forces with a number of other extremists. The group were then struck with a Hellfire as they gathered outside a building. On the outskirts of Mosul, a total of six rocket-launchers were spotted by the Reaper, ready for firing. Four were destroyed by a GBU-12 bomb, then the other two by a Hellfire.

Tuesday 25 October: A Reaper patrolled the area around the village of Ali Rash, home to the Shabak minority, and destroyed an armed truck using a GBU-12 guided bomb. The Reaper's crew then tracked a group of Daesh fighters on foot and attacked them with a Hellfire missile. Before returning to base, the Reaper also provided targeting support to a coalition strike on a further Daesh position.

Wednesday 26 October: Reaper operations around Ali Rash continued. Our aircraft successfully located three terrorist mortar teams which were firing on Iraqi forces. The Reaper directed coalition fast jets to two of the mortars, both of which were subsequently destroyed, and took care of the third itself using a Hellfire. The Reaper's crew then tracked a terrorist in a car, who led them to a large group of extremists manning a defensive position. The Reaper was again able to call in coalition jets which eliminated the group with a salvo of precision guided bombs. A second Hellfire attack by the Reaper accounted for a smaller group of terrorists spotted moving on foot. North-east of Mosul, Typhoons provided close air support to an Iraqi advance and successfully used Paveway IV guided bombs to destroy four buildings which Daesh had fortified as strong-points.

Thursday 27 October: A Reaper patrolled to the north of Mosul. It kept a sustained watch on the area around a known Daesh supply point and tunnel entrance, ensuring no civilians were present in the area before coalition jets delivered a successful attack on both targets. It then provided surveillance support to a further coalition strike which destroyed a large truck-bomb. The Reaper later observed and destroyed three armed terrorists moving on a pair of motorcycles, using a single Hellfire missile.

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