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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

21 March 2017

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

Summary

- Monday 13 March – Typhoons struck a supply route north-west of Mosul, and six strong-points within the city.
- Wednesday 15 March – Tornados attacked three heavily defended terrorist positions in western Mosul.
- Friday 17 March – Tornados supported Iraqi troops advancing inside western Mosul, destroying five Daesh targets.
- Saturday 18 March – Tornados destroyed a terrorist headquarters near Raqqa in Syria.
- Sunday 19 March – Typhoons and Tornados attacked eleven terrorist positions inside western Mosul.
- Monday 20 March – Typhoons and Tornados hit a further three targets in Mosul.

Detail

Royal Air Force Typhoons provided close air support to Iraqi troops engaged in intensive street fighting with Daesh extremists inside Mosul on Monday 13 March. The Typhoons, armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, first conducted an attack north-west of the city on a terrorist supply route. They then carried out strikes which destroyed six Daesh defensive positions in western Mosul. Each of these six targets required very demanding work from our aircrew, since the targets were at times obscured by cloud, and the Iraqi troops whom they were supporting were extremely close to the strong-points. Nevertheless, each of the six targets were destroyed by a direct hit, and the Iraqi forces confirmed that the threat each had posed had been eliminated.

On Wednesday 15 March, Iraqi troops in west Mosul reported encountering a former school compound and two neighbouring buildings now occupied by a large number of Daesh fighters, armed with light machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Two Tornados attacked after dark, having conducted careful checks for any sign of civilians in the area, and hit the Daesh positions in the former school's courtyard and the nearby buildings with three Paveway IVs, which destroyed the terrorist firing points.

Tornado close support missions over Mosul continued on Friday 17 March. Our aircrew again faced very challenging conditions with heavy cloud and having to engage targets perilously close to the Iraqi troops whom they were assisting. Nevertheless, five terrorist positions, including a mortar team, were successfully destroyed by Paveway IVs.

Although the immediate primary operational focus remains on supporting the liberation of western Mosul, operations against Daesh in Syria have not been neglected, with RAF aircraft conducting intensive armed reconnaissance missions there. A Daesh headquarters was identified at a small building five miles east of Raqqa, and on Saturday 18 March, this was destroyed by a direct hit from a Paveway IV released by a Tornado flight.

Sunday 19 March proved a busy day for both the Tornado and Typhoon aircrews over Mosul. Yet again working very closely with the Iraqi troops, they repeatedly struck Daesh positions engaged in extremely close combat with the security forces. In total, eleven Daesh targets, including sniper, heavy machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade teams, were eliminated by Paveway IVs.

Action continued into Monday 20 March, when Tornados bombed a strong-point in the west of the city, and Typhoons struck two Daesh positions, including one from which heavy machine-gun fire was being directed at the Iraqis.

UK contribution to the fight against Daesh


Map of UK forces committed to Operation Shader
Map of UK forces committed to Operation Shader

Campaign against Daesh


Map of Daesh losses and gains in Iraq and Syria since September 2014
Map of Daesh losses and gains in Iraq and Syria since September 2014

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.

Thursday 9 March: A Coalition surveillance patrol observed a Daesh tunnel system some 30 miles west of Kirkuk. 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.

Friday 10 March: Two flights of Paveway-armed Typhoons maintained a presence in the Mosul area. 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.

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.



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