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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

12 June 2017

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

Summary

- Wednesday 7 June – a Reaper killed two terrorists planting booby-traps in Raqqa, while a Tornado and a Typhoon attacked two Daesh-held buildings south-west of the city.
- Friday 9 June – Tornados struck a Daesh position in eastern Raqqa.
- Saturday 10 June – In Raqqa, a Reaper struck a group of terrorists engaged in a fire fight with Syrian Democratic Forces, and Typhoons hit two tunnel entrances.
- Sunday 11 June – Tornados attacked two targets in and around Mosul, while other Tornados and Typhoons hit seven Daesh positions in Raqqa.

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 casualties.

Royal Air Force aircraft have provided close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are now fighting Daesh on the outskirts of Raqqa. In Mosul, our aircraft are continuing to assist Iraqi troops in clearing remaining Daesh positions in and around the city.

A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft flew an armed reconnaissance patrol over northern Raqqa on Wednesday 7 June. It observed two extremists burying booby-traps along routes into the city. Hellfire missiles were deployed, killing both. Some 45 miles south-west of Raqqa, a mixed pair of Tornado and Typhoon fast jets used a Brimstone missile to hit one Daesh-held building. A Paveway IV guided bomb left a second target on fire.

On Friday 9 June, Tornados struck a Daesh position in eastern Raqqa.

The following day, a Reaper intervened in a fire fight in western Raqqa between the SDF and a group of Daesh fighters. The Reaper hit the latter with a very effective Hellfire attack. The same day, Paveway-armed Typhoons struck two entrances to a network of tunnels built beneath a factory in the north-east of the city.

A Tornado flight patrolled the Mosul area on Sunday 11 June, and conducted two attacks. During the first, a Paveway IV was used against a mortar position some 20 miles west of the city. A Brimstone was then used against a Daesh firing point in western Mosul, close to the riverbank. A second Tornado flight, and two pairs of Typhoons, operated the same day over Raqqa. Paveway IVs accounted for four sniper positions and a Daesh-held building, while a simultaneous attack with two Brimstones eliminated two firing points in a building on the western edge of the city.

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.

Monday 15 May: Three flights of Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft operated over western Mosul. 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.

Wednesday 17 May: Two Typhoons assisted the Syrian Democratic Forces. 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.

Thursday 18 May: Both Typhoon and Tornado flights operated over Mosul, and between them conducted three attacks, successfully using Paveway IVs and a Brimstone to target terrorist positions.

Friday 19 May: 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 Raqqa.

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.

Sunday 21 May: Tornados hit a further pair of targets in Mosul, eliminating a sniper and a heavy machine-gun team. On the eastern outskirts of Raqqah, Typhoons destroyed a weapons stockpile.

Monday 22 May: Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to provide close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, and to Iraqi troops fighting to liberate the remaining areas of west Mosul held by Daesh. Typhoon FGR4s assisted SDF engaged in close combat with a group of terrorists defending a large building some eight miles south-east of Raqqa; two Paveway IV guided bombs struck the building and eliminated the threat successfully. Tornado GR4s patrolled over Mosul, where they also used Paveway IVs to deal with two Daesh positions which the Iraqi forces encountered.

Wednesday 24 May: A Reaper, conducting surveillance south-west of Raqqa, kept watch on a small group of terrorists and was able to conduct a successful attack with a Hellfire missile. In Mosul, when advancing Iraqi security forces found themselves facing two buildings defended by a Daesh heavy machine-gun, a sniper team and at least one individual in a suicide-bomb vest, they called for assistance from a flight of Tornados. Our aircraft delivered a very precise simultaneous attack with two Paveway IVs which destroyed both terrorist strongpoints. The Tornados then hit a third terrorist position, again with a Paveway, whilst a second flight bombed a fourth position.

Thursday 25 May: Intelligence confirmed that Daesh were using a small radio relay station east of Palmyra to spread their propaganda. A pair of Typhoons attacked the site and successfully put it out of action with Paveway IVs. Further north in Syria, a Reaper used a Hellfire missile to destroy an armoured personnel carrier near Tabqah, to the west of Raqqa. Two flights of Tornados patrolled over Mosul, where they conducted Paveway IV attacks on two medium machine-gun positions and three other Daesh-held buildings, whilst a mixed Tornado/Typhoon pair used a Brimstone missile to destroy an armoured truck some 30 miles north-west of Bayji.

Friday 26 May: Tornados used two Paveways to crater roads in west Mosul to hamper any attempt by Daesh to move truck-bombs against the latest Iraqi advance.

Saturday 27 May: Tornados and Typhoons continued operations over Mosul; a Paveway IV eliminated a Daesh light machine-gun team, whilst a truck-bomb was destroyed with a Brimstone missile.

Sunday 28 May: Brimstone-armed Tornados successfully attacked three terrorist positions in Mosul, whilst a Paveway IV from a Typhoon accounted for a fourth.

Monday 29 May: Mixed pairs of Tornados and Typhoons struck four Daesh positions in Mosul, including two defended with heavy machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as demolishing a large road block built by the terrorists.

Wednesday 31 May: Typhoon FGR4s, armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, demolished a terrorist-held building to the west of Raqqa, whilst mixed formations of Tornado GR4s and Typhoons patrolled over Mosul, where they used two Brimstone missiles to engage Daesh positions which Iraqi security forces had encountered. The following day, three flights of Tornados and Typhoons struck a total of nine targets inside west Mosul; Brimstone missiles dealt with a heavy machine-gun and a mortar, whilst Paveway IVs silenced another mortar and hit five machine-gun positions and a sniper team.

Friday 2 June: A mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair used a Brimstone to destroy an armoured truck moving along a main road on the outskirts of Raqqa. Two other flights operated over Mosul, where attacks were delivered in very close support to the Iraqi forces, hitting eight Daesh positions with a mix of Brimstones and Paveway IVs. The targets included three machine-gun teams and three groups of terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades. In addition, a truck-bomb, concealed close to one of the positions, was also fortuitously detonated by one of the attacks.

Saturday 3 June: A Reaper, operating south of Al Qaim in western Iraq, observed a group of dismounted terrorists, with an armed truck close by. One Hellfire missile killed several of the terrorists, a second destroyed the vehicle with a direct hit. West of Kirkuk, a pair of Tornados used a Paveway IV to destroy a Daesh strongpoint, whilst two mixed pairs of Tornados and Typhoons delivered five attacks in Mosul with four Brimstones and a Paveway against a truck-bomb, three sniper teams and a group with rocket-propelled grenades.

Sunday 4 June: A further mixed pair conducted three further attacks in Mosul, using a Brimstone to deal with a sniper, and two Paveway IVs against a pair of Daesh-held buildings from which fire was being directed at Iraqi troops.

Monday 5 June: Two Typhoons, supporting Syrian Democratic Forces close to Raqqa, used a Paveway IV to strike a Daesh-held building in the east of the city itself. Tornados meanwhile continued operations over Mosul, and employed a pair of Brimstone missiles to deliver pinpoint attacks on two firing positions located in a large multi-storey building, where the terrorists had stationed a recoilless anti-tank gun and a machine-gun.



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