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Update: air strikes against Daesh

8 August 2017

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

Summary

Monday 31 July – Typhoons attacked a Daesh defensive position and two sniper teams in Raqqa.

Wednesday 2 August – Typhoons destroyed a Daesh strongpoint in Raqqa.

Friday 4 August – Typhoons struck an ammunition factory and three sniper positions in Raqqa.

Detail

Royal Air Force Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper aircraft have continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions against Daesh over Syria and Iraq, and have delivered a number of air strikes against terrorist targets in Raqqa. On Monday 31 July, two flights of Typhoons, based at RAF Akrotiri, delivered successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs against a defensive position from which Daesh were firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and against two sniper teams.

Typhoons provided further close air support to the SDF on Wednesday 2 August; they found themselves coming under sustained heavy machine-gun and sniper fire from a building in Raqqa, but were able to pinpoint the Daesh position, allowing our aircraft to attack with a Paveway IV.

An improvised ammunition factory had been identified in a large single-storey building in Raqqa, and this was struck with two Paveway IVs from Typhoons on Friday 4 August. The Typhoons then conducted two further strikes with Paveways against sniper positions, while a second Typhoon flight dealt with a third sniper team.

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

Saturday 1 July: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over Raqqa. A mortar was reported firing on the SDF, and the Reaper's crew spotted its muzzle flashes from a position concealed beneath a tree. A Hellfire missile destroyed the target. Typhoons were also active over the city, where they used a Paveway IV to silence a heavy machine-gun which was holding up an SDF advance. In northern Iraq, two Tornados assisted the Iraqi troops clearing remaining pockets of Daesh resistance in west Mosul. Paveway IVs were used to destroy two strongpoints from which the Daesh fighters were directing fire. The Tornados then responded to reports of a heavy machine-gun team and a group of suicide bombers preparing to attack the Iraqis – a third position was duly destroyed with a Paveway IV.

Sunday 2 July: Mixed pairs of Tornados and Typhoons operated over both Mosul and Raqqa. In Mosul, the Iraqi ground forces encountered three groups of snipers – all three positions, plus another Daesh-held building, were successfully struck with Paveways. In similar fashion, Paveway IVs were used against two terrorist firing points in Raqqa.

Monday 3 July: Two Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducted armed reconnaissance over Raqqa. One assisted Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who had come under attack from a heavy machine-gun on the top floor of a building. A Hellfire missile through the building's roof silenced the terrorist fire. The second Reaper used two Hellfires in a successful attack on a Daesh headquarters for foreign fighters. A mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair were also active over the city. The SDF, advancing into the centre of Raqqa, encountered a strongly defended building. Our aircraft demolished it with a single Paveway IV guided bomb. Two flights of Tornados operated over northern Iraq the same day. One flight used three Paveway IVs to destroy a group of three workshops producing truck-bombs near Hawijah. The second flight supported Iraqi troops in the Old City of Mosul, and conducted strikes with Paveways and Brimstone missiles on seven Daesh positions, including six machine-gun teams.

Wednesday 5 July: Typhoons continued to support the Iraqi troops in west Mosul. Exceptionally careful coordination was needed given the very short distances between the Iraqi forces and the Daesh positions, but the two Typhoons were able to destroy seven strongpoints, including two with medium machine-guns, each struck by a Paveway IV. Tornados kept watch over the latest SDF advances in Raqqa, and used a Paveway IV to deal with a sniper team.

Thursday 6 July: Two Royal Air Force Typhoons, armed with Paveway IV bombs, operated over Raqqa. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) encountered a large building on the southern edge of the city, close to the bank of the Euphrates, which was heavily defended by Daesh extremists. Two Paveways struck the building and brought an end to the terrorists' activity. A mixed pair of a Typhoon and a Tornado were also active over Raqqa, and these aircraft bombed a sniper position which had been firing persistently at the SDF. A second mixed Tornado/Typhoon pair provided similar support to the Iraqi forces clearing the Old City in Mosul. Attacks with Brimstone missiles dealt with three Daesh positions, whilst a Paveway IV was used to destroy a medium machine-gun team.

Friday 7 July: Tornados flew further missions over Mosul, delivering two Paveway IV attacks which eliminated a sniper team and another group of terrorists firing on Iraqi troops. Further south in Iraq, a Daesh-held building had been identified in the countryside some 25 miles north-west of Bayji, with an armed truck hidden inside. Tornados demolished the building with a direct hit from a Paveway IV. Two more such weapons were used in attacks by Typhoons on a pair of defensive positions which the SDF had come up against in Raqqa.

Saturday 8 July: Typhoons conducted attacks with four Paveway IVs, eliminating a light machine-gun position and three other terrorist strongpoints. Tornados meanwhile continued to support the SDF in Raqqa, striking a Daesh position there.

Sunday 9 July: Typhoons hit a further target in Raqqa, whilst two mixed pairs of Tornados and Typhoons assisted the Iraqis as they fought at very close quarters in Mosul; our aircraft dealt with two snipers and two Daesh-held buildings. Prime Minister Abadi visited the city to mark its liberation.

Wednesday 12 July: A mixed Tornado and Typhoon provided support, and delivered successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs on three buildings from which terrorists had been attempting to prolong the fight. Over Raqqa, a second mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair flew overwatch as the Syrian Democratic Forces continued their advance through the city; our aircraft used Paveway IVs to engage three Daesh positions which opened fire on the SDF, and successfully silenced each threat in turn.

Thursday 13 July: Royal Air Force continued to support operations by the Iraqi security forces to eradicate any remaining Daesh fighters in Mosul. Two Tornados used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a building occupied by extremists on the west bank of the Tigris, in the Old City of Mosul.

Friday 14 July: With Mosul largely liberated, the major focus for RAF missions has been to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting in Raqqa. Two Typhoons used a Paveway IV to destroy the entrance to a tunnel dug beneath an area in the west of the city. The following day, Tornados and Typhoons utilised eleven Paveway IV bombs against mortar positions in Raqqa, whilst a pair of Tornados used a Brimstone missile against a sniper holding out in western Mosul.

Sunday 16 July: In the course of surveillance over Raqqa, a Reaper delivered a Hellfire missile attack which killed a small group of terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades, who had been firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces from a rooftop. Tornados and Typhoons were also very active over the city, and used a Brimstone missile to attack one terrorist firing point, and Paveway IVs to deal with three sniper teams and two other positions defended by Daesh extremists.

Wednesday 19 July: In northern Iraq, intelligence had identified a warehouse near Hawijah in which large quantities of homemade explosives were being stored by Daesh. A flight of RAF Tornados attacked the building with two Paveway IV guided bombs, and demolished it. A mixed pair of one Tornado and one Typhoon meanwhile provided close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to clear the terrorists from Raqqa. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified a Daesh defensive position, and our aircraft conducted a successful attack with a Brimstone missile. A terrorist command post was also identified within the city, and this was struck with two Paveway IVs.

Thursday 20 July: Operations over Raqqa continued, when a Typhoon mission assisted SDF engaged in combat with a group of extremists firing from a building; this was hit with a single Paveway IV which eliminated the threat to the SDF. In northern Iraq, coalition surveillance aircraft had located a number of terrorists on a wooded island in the Tigris, several miles south of Qayyarah, along with their transport – a boat and two vehicles – on the riverbanks. Two Tornados bombed the terrorists on the island with a pair of Paveway IVs, whilst a mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair destroyed the boat and vehicles with Brimstone missiles.

Friday 21 July: A pair of Tornados bombed the top of a grain silo in Raqqa, where a group of Daesh were stationed in a combined observation and sniper post. In western Iraq, a mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair used a Brimstone missile to eliminate an anti-aircraft machine gun that was concealed under cover, south-east of Rawah. Our aircraft then flew north-east to an area south of Qayyarah, where a coalition surveillance aircraft was keeping watch on a truck armed with a recoilless anti-tank gun. This was destroyed using a Brimstone.

Saturday 22 July: A Tornado mission used a single Paveway IV to destroy an engineering vehicle which terrorists had attempted to conceal some miles north of Tall Afar. On Sunday and Monday, the RAF operations focused on supporting the SDF in Raqqa.

Sunday 23 July: Three flights of Tornados and Typhoons conducted missions over the city, in which they delivered successful attacks on six Daesh positions, using Paveways IV bombs and Brimstone missiles.

Monday 24 July: Three more Paveway IVs were dropped, targeting a further three terrorist firing points.

Wednesday 26 July: A Royal Air Force Reaper flew an armed reconnaissance mission over eastern Syria. A group of armed terrorists were observed boarding a truck, and the Reaper's crew tracked the vehicle as it headed west along a desert road, some 20 miles south-south-east of Hasakah, before engaging with a Hellfire missile once it was in an isolated location. The missile scored a direct hit which destroyed the truck.

Thursday 27 July: A mixed pair of a Tornado and a Typhoon, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew overwatch for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advancing inside Raqqa. The SDF came under mortar fire from a terrorist position, but a Paveway IV attack removed this threat. Another Paveway IV similarly dealt with a sniper position which was encountered by the SDF two hours later.

Friday 28 July: Another mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair assisted the SDF in Raqqa, and a Paveway IV was used to destroy a terrorist position.

Sunday 30 July: A further mixed pair of aircraft conducted successful Paveway strikes when the SDF came under fire from two snipers as they continued to clear areas of Raqqa from Daesh control.



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