Daesh clinging to Iraq as UK marks anniversary of operations
Daesh now holds just a fraction of Iraq’s territory after previously threatening the capital Baghdad, the Defence Secretary has said.
Speaking on the second anniversary of the UK voting in favour of air strikes against Daesh, Michael Fallon said Iraqi forces were now preparing to encircle the key city of Mosul.
Mr Fallon visited the capital Baghdad and the northern city of Erbil this week, meeting Iraqi officials and UK personnel who have helped train more than 25,000 Iraqi security forces.
In the two years since air operations began Royal Air Force Tornado and Typhoon and Reaper aircraft have completed more than 1,000 strikes in Iraq and Syria, second only to the US in both countries.
In that time Daesh has been forced to retreat from a number of towns and cities, from Tikrit and Sinjar City to Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah.
Since the liberation of Fallujah in late June, more than half of the RAF’s attacks have been directed towards supporting Iraqi preparations for the assault on Mosul.
UK crews have successfully struck a total of 224 terrorist targets in Syria and Iraq in that time. Some 38 targets were in and around Mosul itself, with another 91 targets around Sharqat, Qayyarah and Al Hawd.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Daesh is being defeated. It is being driven back. It now occupies less than 10% of Iraqi territory.
As well as providing strike aircraft and training to the Iraqi forces, the UK has made a large contribution to the Global Coalition’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance effort, and ships from the Royal Navy have protected US and French ships striking Daesh from the Gulf.
The military effort is part of a wider strategy which aims to tackle threats both in the Middle East and here, so the UK set up a communications cell for the coalition manned by more than 30 experts from nine countries.
Mr Fallon said:
So two years on we’re making significant progress. This remains a hard fight. Yet Britain will not waver in our efforts to defeat the evil of our age.