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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

21 November 2016

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

Latest update

- Thursday 17 November – Tornados attacked a Daesh bunker in western Iraq and a mortar position in the north, while Typhoons destroyed four booby-trapped buildings north of Raqqa in Syria.

- Friday 18 November – Typhoons bombed a strongpoint and an artillery piece north of Raqqa, and a large weapons store in Mosul. A Reaper hit two terrorist targets south of Mosul.

- Sunday 20 November – Tornados struck an artillery piece hidden in trees on the southern edge of Mosul.

Detail

Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to support both the Iraqi operation to liberate Mosul and the advance by the Syrian Democratic Forces against Raqqa.

Two Typhoons, armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, were tasked on Thursday 17 November to deal with a group of buildings which Daesh had heavily booby-trapped with large improvised explosive devices in the path of the SDF's offensive north of Raqqa. Direct hits safely demolished all four target buildings, setting off large secondary explosions. Over Iraq the same day, two pairs of Tornados provided close air support over northern and western parts of the country. North-east of Tall Afar, one mission used a Paveway IV against a terrorist mortar position, while in the west, the other flight used an Enhanced Paveway II to bomb a bunker located in the countryside north-east of Rawah.

On Friday 18 November, a Reaper supported Iraqi troops as they fought to liberate the village of Umarkan, south of Mosul. The Reaper's crew observed a group of Daesh fighters retreating into a building. Having checked that there were no indications of any civilians in the area, the Reaper was able to direct a successful coalition air strike onto the target. Our aircraft then used two of its own Hellfire missiles to kill a group of terrorists as they manoeuvred in the open, and to destroy a vehicle carrying a mortar. In Mosul itself, a Typhoon flight used four Paveway IVs to destroy a weapons stockpile in a large isolated building on the western bank of the Tigris. A second pair of Typhoons meanwhile continued to support the SDF north of Raqqa. Working closely with a coalition surveillance aircraft, the Typhoons were able to destroy a terrorist strongpoint with a Paveway IV despite the SDF being very near the target. The Typhoons then used another Paveway IV against an artillery piece concealed in trees some ten miles north of Raqqa.

Tornados saw further action over Mosul on Sunday 20 November. On the southern edge of the city, to the east of Mosul airfield, an artillery piece had been spotted hidden amongst woodland. A Paveway IV was nevertheless successfully directed onto the target, and secondary explosions suggest ammunition was destroyed along with the gun itself.

Previous air strikes

Tuesday 1 November: Tornados patrolled north of Mosul 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.

Wednesday 2 November: A combination of Typhoon and Tornado aircraft patrolled to the east of the city. Some distance to the south-east, they used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a building from which a terrorist mortar team was operating. They then flew north to eliminate a sniper position with a second Paveway.

Thursday 3 November: Tornados struck two further targets north-east of Mosul. A Paveway IV destroyed a building from which Daesh extremists were firing on advancing ground forces, while a Brimstone missile accounted for a terrorist vehicle. South-east of the city, a Reaper flew overwatch for Iraqi troops as they pressed forwards. The Reaper's crew used all four of its Hellfire missiles against a mortar team seen firing from amidst trees, and three groups of terrorists as they fired on the Iraqis with rocket-propelled grenades, as well as attempting to set fire to piles of tyres to create a smokescreen. The Reaper was also able to provide surveillance support to two air strikes by coalition aircraft which destroyed a fortified position and an armed truck.

Friday 4 November: Reaper operations continued south-east of Mosul, with our aircraft directing a successful coalition air attack onto its target, a weapons dump, and using one of its own Hellfires to engage a group of terrorists on foot. Two Tornados struck close air support targets inside eastern Mosul itself, using Brimstone missiles to destroy an armed vehicle and a large truck-bomb. A Paveway also hit a group of terrorists which another coalition aircraft had been carefully tracking as they manoeuvred towards Iraqi troops. A second Tornado flight supported Iraqi operations elsewhere in the country, and north-east of Mosul used Paveway IV and Enhanced Paveway II bombs to destroy a cave occupied by Daesh in the hills above Bayji, as well as a nearby stock of equipment.

Saturday 5 November: Three Hellfire attacks were launched by a Reaper near Mosul, against a truck-bomb, a mortar and a rocket-propelled grenade team. The Reaper also assisted in a coalition strike against a second mortar. On Sunday 6 November, Paveway IV-armed Typhoons bombed a terrorist group in the Tigris valley south of Mosul, while Tornados used a Brimstone missile to destroy an armoured personnel carrier inside the city. On the outskirts, a Reaper tracked a terrorist driving a truck-bomb towards Iraqi troops, but the truck exploded prematurely as it drove over rough ground, negating any need for the Reaper to fire at it. The Reaper instead used its Hellfires against a truck being loaded with spare weapons, a recoilless anti-tank gun, a rocket-propelled grenade team and an armed truck.

Monday 7 November: A Typhoon mission armed with Paveway IV guided bombs destroyed a stockpile of rocket and mortar equipment to the north of Bayji, and a Reaper conducting armed reconnaissance near Raqqah struck a Daesh vehicle with a Hellfire missile. Near Mosul, a Reaper provided close air support to Iraqi forces. Daesh fighters were observed firing a recoilless anti-tank gun at the Iraqi troops, then loading the weapon into a vehicle. As the vehicle pulled away, it was destroyed by a Hellfire. The Reaper's crew then used a further three Hellfires, which have a very low risk of collateral damage, in successful attacks on groups of extremists as they engaged in street fighting with the Iraqi troops.

Tuesday 8 November: Reaper operations in the area continued, with our aircraft conducting three further Hellfire attacks on terrorist fighters, as well as providing targeting support to a coalition air strike which destroyed a mortar team. To the north-east of Mosul, a pair of Typhoon FGR4s used Paveway IVs to destroy seven Daesh positions.

Wednesday 9 November: A Reaper spotted an armoured vehicle firing on Iraqi troops on the outskirts of Mosul, and destroyed it with a Hellfire.

Thursday 10 November: A Reaper provided overwatch to Iraqi troops engaged in street fighting at Abasi in northern Iraq. Its crew used Hellfire missiles against two groups of terrorists, including a light machine-gun team. In Mosul itself, a mortar was spotted in an area of heavily wooded parkland. It was destroyed by a Paveway IV guided bomb from a Typhoon flight. North of the city, Tornados used a Brimstone missile to kill several terrorists as they manoeuvred along a street.

Friday 11 November: A pair of Typhoons patrolled over Syria, supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces north of Raqqa. Another coalition aircraft was able to identify a Daesh armoured vehicle well concealed under trees, and was able to direct the Typhoon onto the target, which was duly destroyed with a Paveway IV. Meanwhile, south of Mosul, Tornados used another Paveway IV to demolish a terrorist strongpoint on the banks of the Tigris.

Saturday 12 November: A Reaper maintained surveillance around Mosul. As well as supporting a coalition air strike that eliminated a recoilless anti-tank gun team, our aircraft used three Hellfire missiles against a mortar and two groups of terrorists engaged in combat with Iraqi troops.

Sunday 13 November: Typhoons again operated north of Raqqa and were able to destroy an anti-aircraft gun near Thulth Khunayz. Some miles to the north-east of Mosul, Tornados used a Paveway IV to collapse a tunnel system, while closer to the city, a Hellfire from a Reaper destroyed a large weapon mounted on the rear of a lorry. The Reaper then used a GBU-12 laser guided bomb to attack successfully both a buried weapons cache and a nearby terrorist vehicle.

Monday 14 November: Royal Air Force Typhoons provided close air support to Iraqi forces as they fought to liberate the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. A group of terrorists were spotted repositioning in open country some distance north of Nimrud, and successfully struck with a Paveway IV guided bomb. To the north of Mosul, a Reaper provided similar close support to Kurdish troops, in particular hunting for Daesh mortars. The Reaper's crew successfully located two such weapons. One was subsequently destroyed by coalition jets guided onto the target by the Reaper, the second was struck using one of the Reaper's own Hellfire missiles.

Tuesday 15 November: A Reaper maintained patrols over Mosul and a further terrorist mortar team was silenced by a Hellfire missile. Tornados and Typhoons meanwhile maintained pressure on Daesh elsewhere in Iraq. The Tornados used a Paveway IV to bomb a terrorist bunker south of Haditha Lake, while the Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building to the west of Kirkuk.

Wednesday 16 November: The Typhoons operated in the same area using Paveway IVs against two more terrorist occupied buildings some 20 miles west of Kirkuk. A Reaper also continued to keep watch over eastern Mosul, where it successfully hunted down and killed two Daesh mortar teams, and supported a coalition fast jet attack that accounted for a third, vehicle-borne, mortar.



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