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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

10 April 2017

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

Summary

- Wednesday 5 April – Typhoons supported Syrian Democratic Forces west of Raqqa, while Tornados assisted Iraqi troops both in Mosul and the western deserts of Iraq.
- Thursday 6 April – A combined Tornado and Typhoon formation destroyed a mortar team on a truck in Mosul and a Daesh team planting improvised explosive devices on the move west of Kirkuk.
- Friday 7 April – A Reaper provided close support over Mosul, destroying two terrorist mortar teams.
- Saturday 8 April – A combined Tornado and Typhoon formation struck a truck-bomb factory in Mosul.
- Sunday 9 April – Tornados bombed a stockpile of home-made explosives near Al Qaim in western Iraq.

Detail

The RAF is continuing to support Iraqi forces in their effort to liberate western Mosul. While the operating environment in the city is very challenging, particularly given the closely-packed buildings, very narrow streets, and the density of the urban population, our aircrew have continued to deliver precision strikes in close support of Iraqi troops on the ground. Daesh's current tactics, including the illegal use of civilians as human shields, and fighting from sites such as schools, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighbourhoods, increases the risk to innocent life. While no military operations come without risk, particularly in dense urban environments and against such inhuman Daesh tactics, the RAF continues to take all steps necessary to minimise civilian causalities.

Royal Air Force Typhoons provided close air support to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday 5 April, as they consolidated their hold on the huge Tabqah Dam, recently seized from Daesh's control, to the west of Raqqa. Daesh had tried, in their desperation, to counter-attack with suicide truck-bombs, so the Typhoons conducted an air strike to cut the approach road to the SDF positions and make any further truck-bomb attacks much more difficult. Given attempts by both Daesh and Russia to claim falsely that Coalition air attacks have been directed at the dam itself, it is important to emphasise that the Typhoons' target was two miles to the south-east and posed no threat whatsoever to the dam's structural integrity. A pair of Tornados meanwhile supported the Iraqi forces driving Daesh out of western Mosul, and used a Paveway IV guided bomb to engage a mortar position. The Tornados then flew down to Iraq's western desert, where other Iraqi troops were operating against Daesh to the south of Al Qaim. A Brimstone missile was used to destroy a motorcycle combination carrying three terrorists at speed over the desert and a second Brimstone eliminated a light machine-gun position.

A Tornado and a Typhoon flew as a pair on Thursday 6 April, armed with a mix of Paveway IVs and Brimstone missiles. Over north-western Mosul, they engaged a Daesh motor team who were moving to a new position on a truck. A number of unidentified individuals were seen on foot nearby, so our aircrew waited patiently until they had moved away from the immediate proximity of the vehicle. A Brimstone missile, which has a smaller warhead than a Paveway, was then used to destroy the target. The RAF flight then patrolled an area some 25 miles west of Kirkuk, where they were able to track a truck carrying a terrorist team who had been planting booby traps, scoring a direct hit on the moving vehicle with another Brimstone missile.

On Friday 7 April, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft flew overwatch for Iraqi troops in west Mosul. Coalition surveillance aircraft identified two Daesh mortar teams: one firing from the doorway of a building, the other from a small courtyard. The Reaper's crew were able to conduct successful attacks with Hellfire missiles which accounted for both teams.

The following day, a Tornado and Typhoon pair used two Paveway IVs to strike a truck-bomb factory in Mosul.

On Sunday 9 April, two Tornados patrolled the Iraqi border with Syria, where they bombed a stockpile of home-made explosives near Al Qaim.

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

Sunday 2 April: Tornados, supported by a Voyager air tanker, patrolled over western Mosul. When Iraqi forces came under Daesh mortar fire, the Tornados' aircrew were able to identify the mortar team firing their weapon out of the ground floor of a large building. This allowed the Tornados to achieve a clear line of fire for a Brimstone missile, which scored a direct hit on the mortar team while causing minimal damage to the rest of the building.

Monday 3 April: Tornados and Typhoons conducted attacks in western Mosul, also against Daesh mortars. The Typhoons had to bomb through cloud, but the Iraqi ground forces, only metres away, reported that the terrorist position had been struck accurately. The Tornados, also hampered by cloud, targeted a mortar that was firing on an Iraqi unit from the top storey of a tall building. A Paveway IV was employed with a carefully selected fuse setting, and it successfully demolished just the uppermost storey, leaving the rest of the building intact.



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