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Update: air strikes against Daesh

22 May 2017

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


- Monday 15 May – Tornados and Typhoons provided extensive support to Iraqi forces in Mosul, striking nine targets.
- Wednesday 17 May – Typhoons attacked terrorist mortar teams in Syria, whilst Tornados destroyed a tank in north-west Iraq and a Daesh position in Mosul.
- Thursday 18 May – Tornados and Typhoons attacked three terrorist positions in west Mosul.
- Friday 19 May – Tornados struck seven Daesh targets in Mosul, whilst Typhoons bombed a group of extremists east of Raqqah.
- Saturday 20 May – Typhoons hit a Daesh-held building in eastern Syria, Tornados hit two more positions in Mosul.
- Sunday 21 May – Typhoons destroyed a weapons stockpile on the outskirts of Raqqa, Tornados dealt with a sniper and a heavy machine-gun in Mosul.


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 casualties.

Three flights of Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft operated over western Mosul on Monday 15 May. As well as conducting tactical reconnaissance, our aircraft also provided support to Iraqi troops engaged in very close combat with Daesh extremists. Three Brimstone missiles were used in very precise attacks on terrorist firing points, including a medium machine-gun position, while Paveway IV guided bombs struck another machine-gun team, demolished four Daesh-held buildings, and cratered a road to prevent terrorist movements along it.

Two Typhoons assisted the Syrian Democratic Forces on Wednesday 17 May. Their first attack was on a mortar which a coalition surveillance aircraft had spotted north-west of Raqqa. Having eliminated that threat, the Typhoons then headed to the east of the country, where they bombed two buildings near Al Ulwah which were being used by another Daesh mortar team and their spotters. A Tornado flight meanwhile patrolled over Mosul, where they used a Brimstone missile to strike a terrorist position. Another Tornado flight later struck a Daesh tank loaded on the back of a heavy transport vehicle in north west Iraq, hitting it with a Brimstone.

Both Typhoon and Tornado flights operated over Mosul on Thursday 18 May, and between them conducted three attacks, successfully using Paveway IVs and a Brimstone to target terrorist positions. The following day, Tornados provided further support to the Iraqi ground forces, despite very challenging conditions as a dust storm raged. Again, a mixture of Brimstones and Paveway IVs were used to engage seven Daesh positions within the city, including a sniper team and a mortar, despite the Iraqi forces being extremely close to the targets on occasion. In Syria, Typhoons supported the SDF and bombed a group of terrorists caught in the open a few miles to the east of Raqqah.

On Saturday 20 May, Typhoons maintained operations over Syria, where they conducted a further attack on a Daesh-held building near Al Ulwah. In Mosul, two more terrorist positions were bombed by Tornados. The latter hit a further pair of targets in Mosul on Sunday 21 May, eliminating a sniper and a heavy machine-gun team. On the eastern outskirts of Raqqah, Typhoons destroyed a weapons stockpile.

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.

Wednesday 5 April: Royal Air Force Typhoons provided close air support to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as they consolidated their hold on the huge Tabqah Dam 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.

Thursday 6 April: A Tornado and a Typhoon flew as a pair, 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.

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.

Saturday 8 April: A Tornado and Typhoon pair used two Paveway IVs to strike a truck-bomb factory in Mosul.

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

Wednesday 12 April, two Typhoons came to the assistance of Iraqi troops when they came under fire from a sniper team in Mosul. A single Paveway IV guided bomb successfully dealt with the threat.

Thursday 13 April: Typhoons patrolled over Raqqa. North of the city, Syrian Democratic Forces reported being in very close combat with a group of seven, strongly defended, Daesh positions. Despite heavy cloud, the Typhoons were able to destroy one position on their first pass, then having confirmed the exact location of the other six targets, struck all of those simultaneously with Paveway IVs on a second pass.

Friday 14 April: Tornados focused their efforts over Mosul, where Iraqi troops identified a car-bomb that had been positioned on a road leading out of the north of the city. A Brimstone missile destroyed the booby-trapped vehicle with a direct hit.

Saturday 15 April: A further Tornado patrol supported Iraqi forces engaged in a firefight with Daesh positioned in a large building in western Mosul. Two Paveway IVs silenced the terrorist fire. Meanwhile, Typhoons continued their support for the SDF as they pushed east from Tabqah towards Raqqa, bombing a terrorist-held building.

Sunday 16 April: Two flights of Tornados active over Mosul. Each flight conducted a successful attack with a Brimstone missile, accounting for a terrorist position on top of a building and an engineering vehicle used by Daesh to construct defensive positions.

Monday 17 April: Tornados operated over western Iraq, where a heavy machine-gun had been spotted, concealed within a grove of trees at Rawah. A single Paveway IV destroyed the weapon. Typhoons continued their support to the SDF west of Raqqah, and conducted a successful Paveway attack on a group of terrorists positioned in a treeline to the south of Tabqah.

Thursday 20 April: The RAF assisted Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). A pair of Typhoons struck a Daesh-held building to the north-west of Raqqa. The Typhoons then hit a Daesh mortar team hiding in a tunnel in the east of the country.

Friday 21 April: RAF Tornados provided close air support over western Mosul. A pick-up truck used by Daesh was destroyed with a Brimstone missile. The Tornados then struck a group of Daesh fighters in a building which had been firing on Iraqi troops.

Saturday 22 April: Tornado patrols over Mosul continued, when the aircraft used Brimstone missiles to destroy two vehicles used by Daesh. Two other Tornados struck a group of Daesh buildings to the south-east of Rawah, in western Iraq.

Sunday 23 April: Typhoons assisted the SDF, destroying an armed truck near Tabqah, west of Raqqa. In western Mosul, a Daesh-held building was struck by a Paveway IV, released by a Tornado flight, after Iraqi troops came under fire from the building.

Monday 24 April: Two Royal Air Force Typhoons provided close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). A Paveway IV guided bomb was used to demolish a building in eastern Syria that was held by a group of Daesh fighters. On the same day in northern Iraq, Tornados provided similar support to the Iraqi forces, striking a Daesh position in western Mosul.

Thursday 27 April and Friday 28 April: Tornados were active again over Mosul, striking further Daesh positions.

Sunday 30 April: Typhoons once more flying in support of the SDF west of Raqqa, where they struck a group of Daesh fighters along the bank of the Euphrates. The Tornados then flew over Mosul, demolishing two Daesh-held buildings which the Iraqi ground forces had encountered.

Wednesday 3 May: With Iraqi forces continuing their operations to clear Daesh from areas of western Mosul which they still occupy, two flights of Royal Air Force Tornados provided close air support. Direct hits were scored with Brimstone missiles on two rooftop firing positions. A third terrorist position was also struck with a Paveway IV guided bomb in an attack carefully planned to minimise the potential risk to the Iraqi troops who were very close by.

Thursday 4 May: A Tornado flight used a Paveway IV to destroy a command post some 15 miles west of Kirkuk. Meanwhile a second Tornado mission attacked a truck-bomb factory at the north-western edge of Mosul. Four Paveway IVs struck one large and two smaller buildings.

Saturday 6 May: Typhoons supported the Syrian Democratic Forces to the west of Raqqa, delivering a successful Paveway attack on a building defended by a number of Daesh fighters.

Sunday 7 May: Tornados were again in action over Mosul, when they used a Brimstone missile to engage a Daesh firing point.

Monday 8 May: Two Typhoons joined other Coalition aircraft in a strike mission, against a Daesh truck-bomb factory in western Iraq, north-west of Ar Rutbah. Our aircraft targeted five buildings within the complex, which were all destroyed or severely damaged. The same day, two flights of Tornados continued their operations over Mosul. One pair conducted a series of attacks to support the Iraqi infantry, hitting Daesh fighters firing from rooftops and within buildings, and demolishing a local Daesh headquarters. The second pair of Tornados used Paveway IVs to cut the road network at three key choke-points to prevent Daesh moving vehicles, particularly truck-bombs, towards districts liberated by the Iraqis.

Tuesday 9 May: An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft observed a group of Daesh fighters in Abu Kamal, eastern Syria, mustering a large crowd of civilians in one of the town's main streets. When a van then unloaded two shackled prisoners in front of the crowd, it became clear that Daesh were organising a public execution. Given the large number of civilians present, the Reaper's crew could not target directly the Daesh fighters about to carry out the murders. However, two armed extremists were stationed as sentries on the roof of a building overlooking the scene. A Hellfire missile was fired immediately, and scored a direct hit which not only killed one of the sentries but also brought the execution to an immediate halt, as the Daesh fighters fled the scene, and the crowd of civilians dispersed.

Wednesday 10 May: Typhoons also patrolled over Syria, and successfully struck a Daesh mortar team that was firing on Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) some five miles north of Raqqa. Tornados also operated over western Mosul, where they used a Brimstone missile to silence a sniper team which had opened fire on Iraqi troops, and used a Paveway IV against a Daesh-held building.

Thursday 11 May: A pair of Typhoons, armed with Paveway IVs, destroyed a truck-bomb staging area some fifteen miles north-west of Raqqa, while another pair supported the SDF in eastern Syria, hitting a mortar team and two Daesh-held buildings near Al Ulwah. The same day, two flights of Tornados patrolled over Mosul, using Brimstone missiles against two Daesh positions very close to Iraqi troops. A further Paveway IV eliminated a mortar in a courtyard, and three more Paveways cratered roads along which Daesh might have tried to move truck-bombs along.

Friday 12 May: Tornados cut three more key routes in Mosul, as well as conducting a Brimstone attack on a Daesh position in the city.

Saturday 13 May: Similar operations continued. Tornados cut yet another part of the road network, and struck two sniper positions in Mosul, before one pair headed west to Bulayj to destroy an armed truck.

Sunday 14 May: Both Typhoons and Tornados hit targets in Mosul. The Tornados cratered a further key choke-point on the roads, while the Typhoons delivered attacks on a mortar team, two heavy machine-gun positions and a Daesh-held building.

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