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Update: air strikes against Daesh

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

13 February 2018


Monday 22 January – a Reaper conducted three attacks on terrorists.

Wednesday 24 January – Typhoons destroyed two buildings held by Daesh in eastern Syria, whilst a Reaper attacked two groups of terrorists.

Friday 26 January – Tornados struck a Daesh-held building and a Reaper hit a group of terrorists.

Saturday 27 January – Typhoons bombed two Daesh positions.

Sunday 28 January – Tornados destroyed a terrorist observation post.

Monday 29 January – Tornados attacked a group of terrorists.

Tuesday 30 January – a Reaper successfully targeted terrorists flying a drone against the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Wednesday 31 January – a Reaper eliminated a sniper team.

Thursday 1 February – Tornados destroyed a heavy machine-gun position, whilst a Reaper struck three further terrorist positions.

Friday 2 February – Typhoons demolished a terrorist-held building.

Saturday 3 February – Typhoons and a Reaper hit three Daesh buildings.

Sunday 4 February – a Reaper struck a large group of terrorists in a building.

Monday 5 February – a Reaper struck terrorists moving at speed on a motorcycle.

Wednesday 7 February – Tornados eliminated a Daesh observation post and a booby-trap team, whilst a Reaper struck a building from which fire had been directed at the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Friday 9 February – Tornados destroyed two Daesh buildings, whilst a Reaper struck a group of terrorists firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Saturday 10 February – a Reaper conducted two attacks on terrorists operating inside buildings, and two attacks on extremists in the open, as well as tracking a Daesh command team who were subsequently struck by a coalition aircraft.


The fight to defeat Daesh is far from over, the Defence Secretary warned today in Rome as he met with counterparts at the Counter Deash Ministerial to review the success of the campaign, reaffirm the UK's commitment to defeat Daesh, and discuss the future role of the Global Coalition.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

"The UK will not be complacent when it comes to terrorism – a point I reaffirmed with my Global Coalition counterparts today. We pledged to continue to fight terrorists until their poisonous global network is totally destroyed. Despite Daesh's diminishing territory, it is hell-bent on directing and inspiring terrorist attacks worldwide – threatening our security at home and abroad. The threat they pose is evolving and intensifying but our resolve to defeat them will not fade."

As demonstration of this, the RAF have struck 22 times in the past three weeks, destroying Daesh drone operators, terrorist compounds, observation points, heavy machine-gun teams and pockets of fighters engaged in close quarter, street fighting with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

As the SDF drive the final pockets of Daesh fighters from Syria, RAF fast jets and remotely piloted Reaper aircraft provided close air support. On 22 January, a Reaper conducted three attacks against Daesh extremists fighting on foot and holding a building north of Abu Kamal. On 24 January, Typhoons patrolled over the Euphrates area, destroying two Daesh buildings from which terrorists were engaged in combat with the SDF. A Reaper also carried out strikes, hitting groups of terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

On 26 January, a Reaper worked alongside two Tornados over the area; the Reaper identified one building occupied by extremists, which allowed the Tornados to strike, then it hit a further group with a Hellfire. Typhoons provided support to the Syrian Democratic Forces on 27 January, delivering destroying a two Daesh positions. The following day, Tornados bombed a terrorist observation post to the east of the Euphrates, and on 29 January, Tornados stuck a group of terrorists moving between buildings.

On 30 January, a Reaper hunted for a Daesh team flying a drone surveying the Syrian Democratic Forces, it identified them launching a quadcopter and struck with a Hellfire missile. Another Reaper dealt with a sniper team on 31 January after the SDF reported coming under fire.

Several coalition aircraft, including an RAF Reaper and two Tornados, supported the SDF as they cleared a village of terrorists on 1 February. The Reaper spotted an anti-tank gun team firing at the SDF, and guided the strike on the weapon team by a coalition aircraft. The Reaper then hit three more terrorist positions, and the Tornados eliminated a heavy machine-gun team. Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building on 2 February, and they demolished a further two such buildings on 3 February, whilst a Reaper destroyed another. On 4 February, a Reaper hit another building held by a large group of terrorists.

On Monday 5 February, a Reaper struck a pair of terrorists riding a motorcycle at speed across countryside. On Wednesday 7 February, another Reaper tracked a number of terrorist targets in the same area, allowing two Daesh-held buildings to be struck successfully by coalition fast jets. The Reaper dealt with a third such building used as a firing point against the SDF, whilst two Tornados destroyed a terrorist observation post, then attacked a building from which a Daesh team planting booby-traps was operating.

On Friday 9 February, a Reaper provided surveillance support to a series of coalition air strikes on terrorist targets, and conducted an attack with a Hellfire missile against a group of extremists who were firing upon the Syrian Democratic Forces. A Tornado flight also carried out successful attacks on two Daesh-held buildings. The next day, a Reaper hit two groups of terrorists operating within buildings, and two other groups fighting in the open. The Reaper's crew then tracked a local terrorist command team as it moved between locations, supporting a successful attack by coalition fast jets.

RAF aircraft have carried out nearly 1,700 strikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria since 2014. The UK have deployed Reaper UAVs, Typhoon jets and Tornados, have conducted significant ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions and have provided additional air support such as inflight refuelling and transporting. The UK is working to secure Daesh's lasting defeat by working with legitimate local authorities to ensure a stable, prosperous and united future for affected communities in both Iraq and Syria. Daesh must not be allowed to re-emerge.

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 6 January: Two Typhoons conducted a night attack on an isolated building some seven miles north-east of Abu Kamal, used as accommodation by Daesh extremists, including local commanders. A pair of Paveway IVs destroyed the target.

Sunday 7 January: A Reaper once again worked with coalition fast jets over the Euphrates, in support of the SDF. The Reaper observed a group of terrorists assembling under a tree, around twenty miles south-east of Mayadin, allowing a prompt and effective strike by another coalition aircraft, then delivered a further attack using one of its own Hellfire missiles. Following the defeat of Daesh in Iraq, coalition aircraft have remained on-call to support the Iraqi security forces as necessary to prevent any attempts by the terrorists to mount further operations in the country, and on Sunday a Typhoon flight was tasked to deal with a group of extremists who had been tracked to a cave some twelve miles north-east of Bayji. A direct hit was achieved with a Paveway IV, killing several terrorists in and around the cave entrance.

Monday 8 January: A Reaper tracked terrorists manoeuvring to the north-east of Abu Kamal and conducted four successful attacks, with three Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb, against extremists on foot and a Daesh pair moving at high speed on a motorcycle across the desert. Two Typhoon FGR4s were also active over the area on the same day, and they used Paveway IV guided bombs to demolish a building which had been identified as a terrorist command post.

Tuesday 9 January: Reaper operations over the Euphrates valley continued, when one of our aircraft spotted a group of armed terrorists on a rooftop north-east of Hajin, observing Syrian Democratic Forces' positions through binoculars. A Hellfire missile successfully struck the group, and a second missile was later used to eliminate another Daesh group who had taken up position within a building.

Wednesday 10 January: The following day, another Reaper worked closely with coalition surveillance aircraft and fast jets in a series of strikes in support of the SDF advance. Our aircraft supported coalition air attacks on a Daesh-held building and a mortar position, and conducted three attacks with its own Hellfire missiles, destroying an armed truck parked under cover of a vehicle shelter, and hitting two groups of terrorists on foot. A flight of Tornado GR4s also took part in this operation, and targeted an armed truck positioned within a compound; the use of a Brimstone missile allowed the vehicle to be destroyed without posing a risk to nearby buildings.

Thursday 11 January: a Reaper again patrolled north of Abu Kamal, the crew using the aircraft's long endurance and sophisticated surveillance sensors to provide overwatch for the SDF on the ground. Three groups of terrorists were successfully attacked with Hellfires, and a fourth missile was employed to kill a Daesh extremist spotted on a rooftop, controlling a small drone of the type used by the terrorists to attempt to spot opponents and conduct harassing attacks with improvised weaponry.

Friday 12 January: Another Reaper continued support to the SDF in this area on Friday 12 January, and its crew conducted attacks with Hellfire missiles on a Daesh-held building and a terrorist moving at speed on a motorcycle.

Saturday 13 January: A Reaper worked very closely with another coalition armed reconnaissance aircraft, again to the north of Abu Kamal. Our aircraft spotted a second terrorist drone team launching a quadcopter from a rooftop, and kept close watch on them whilst the coalition aircraft manoeuvred into a suitable firing position from which it successfully attacked the drone team. The Reaper supported a further two successful attacks by its coalition companion, and also delivered five attacks with four Hellfire missiles and one GBU-12 guided bomb. These weapons struck four buildings and a defensive berm, from which fire had been directed by extremists at the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Sunday 14 January: a Reaper spotted the third terrorist drone team identified during the week; on this occasion, the extremists attempted to conceal themselves in a building, but could be seen controlling the drone from the top-floor window. A Hellfire was directed accurately through the window.

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