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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

13 March 2017

The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Summary

- Thursday 9 March – Typhoons and Tornados attacked five targets in Mosul, as well as a Daesh tunnel to the west of Kirkuk.

- Friday 10 March – Typhoons provided very close air support to Iraqi troops in and around Mosul, hitting three targets.

- Sunday 12 March – Tornados bombed a large Daesh headquarters in Syria, just south of Raqqa, while Typhoons destroyed a Mosul strongpoint.

Detail

A Coalition surveillance patrol observed a Daesh tunnel system some 30 miles west of Kirkuk on Thursday 9 March. Royal Air Force Typhoons used a single Paveway IV guided bomb to collapse the tunnel entrance. The Typhoons then flew north-west to support Iraqi forces in western Mosul. Two choke-points had been identified on the road network into a district which the Iraqi troops were clearing. These choke-points were duly struck with Paveway IVs to prevent any Daesh reinforcements or truck-bombs being moved into the area. Tornados were also active that day over Mosul. They successfully used a total of three Paveway IVs to engage two mortars and a building from which Daesh fighters were firing at the Iraqi forces.

Two flights of Paveway-armed Typhoons maintained a presence in the Mosul area on Friday 10 March. One pair destroyed a mortar team on a hill above the Tigris, to the west of the city, then eliminated a group of Daesh fighters engaged in close combat with Iraqi troops inside western Mosul. The second flight also struck a Daesh position inside the city. This was again a challenging target, given the proximity of friendly forces, but the attack was accomplished successfully.

On Sunday 12 March, Tornados armed with Enhanced Paveway II weapons conducted a carefully planned strike on a large Daesh headquarters in Syria, situated a couple of miles south of Raqqa. The attack had to be delivered through heavy cloud, but both of the target buildings were destroyed by direct hits. Support to the Mosul operation also continued, with Typhoons demolishing a strong-point which the Iraqi forces had encountered during their advance.

Previous update

Wednesday 1 March: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft assisted Iraqi troops in western Mosul, using a Hellfire missile and a GBU-12 guided bomb to eliminate Daesh fighters, including a sniper, engaged at close quarters with the Iraqis. The Reaper also used its surveillance sensors to check that a target area was clear of civilians before a coalition air strike. Two flights of Tornados armed with Paveway IVs also operated over western Mosul that day. The first pair destroyed a strong-point held by terrorists armed with light machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades, while the second pair dealt with a sniper before demolishing two buildings that were part of a factory producing truck-bombs.

Thursday 2 March: Typhoons had to deal with heavy cloud over Mosul, with the challenging weather conditions denying them clear sight of the target when an Iraqi unit came under machine-gun fire from a Daesh strong-point at short range. Despite these conditions, very careful coordination with the Iraqi troops allowed the Typhoons to hit the Daesh position accurately with a Paveway IV, without endangering friendly forces. The Iraqi unit reported that the machine-gun had been silenced and the threat to them eliminated.

Friday 3 March: Tornados experienced similarly difficult cloud conditions, when they struck four Daesh-held buildings in western Mosul. The Iraqi ground forces reported that all four targets had been safely destroyed, with at least one heavy machine-gun also put out of action. Typhoons also engaged a further three targets in the city, striking a road junction to prevent Daesh moving supplies and truck-bombs along the route, and eliminating sniper and light machine-gun teams.

Sunday 5 March: A pair of Typhoons operated around Tall Afar. They used Paveway IVs to target successfully a cave where terrorists had set up base, together with a near-by fortified position. A second pair of Typhoons maintained close air support over western Mosul, where they bombed first a Daesh strong-point and then a checkpoint that had been established in a large building on the outskirts to control a route out of the city. 20 miles north-west of Mosul, another Daesh location had been detected, with terrorists occupying a building on the banks of the Tigris. Tornados struck the building, and then used a further Paveway IV to collapse a tunnel that had been dug close by.

Monday 6 March: Careful intelligence analysis allowed the Coalition to pinpoint the location of a Daesh headquarters at a compound in a remote area of eastern Syria. Two Typhoons were dispatched from RAF Akrotiri, targeting the two key buildings within the compound. Both were demolished by Paveway IV guided bombs. Tornados meanwhile supported Iraqi ground operations in western Mosul by using Paveway IVs to strike three key routes within the city, helping to prevent Daesh from sending reinforcements or truck-bombs to areas being successfully liberated by the Iraqi troops.

Tuesday 7 March: Similar work was performed by Paveway-armed Typhoons, when they cut a major highway leading out of Mosul towards positions still held by Daesh to the north-west of the city. Inside Mosul, a Tornado flight used a Paveway IV to deal very effectively with a sniper team which was holding up an Iraqi advance.

Wednesday 8 March: A pair of Tornados initially operated north-west of Mosul, where they struck a mortar position on the south bank of the Tigris using a Paveway IV. They then provided direct support to Iraqi forces inside western Mosul, engaging a sniper who was firing on the Iraqis, and hitting a building defended by a number of terrorists.



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