There will be no respite in UK operations against Daesh until we can guarantee their absolute defeat, the Defence Secretary reassured his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan al-Hiyali, in a meeting in London today.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
We will not rest until we hammer the final nail in the terrorists’ coffin.
While Daesh’s territory is diminishing, the threat they pose to our security at home and abroad through their evil and barbaric beliefs remains stark. That is why RAF jets continue to strike them in Iraq and Syria to eliminate the threat they pose to our way of life.
The importance of continued RAF activity was echoed by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, who said:
With Daesh losing control of its last remaining pockets of territory, they are once more looking purely like the terrorist organisation they are. Yet the threat they pose within the region and more widely across the world remains.
As we have discovered in previous conflicts, if we let up, then we run the risk that Daesh will return. It is vital that we stay the course, alongside our allies, until the job is done.
In the past three weeks, RAF Typhoons, Tornados and Reapers have destroyed armoured vehicles, terrorist bases, weapon stores and disrupted supply routes.
On Wednesday 14 February Typhoons destroyed a mechanical excavator, used by the terrorists to construct fortified positions near the Euphrates river in eastern Syria. Operations continued in eastern Syria on Friday 16 February, Typhoons and Tornado’s provided close air support to Syrian Democratic Forces engaged in ground close combat with Daesh fighters, destroying five terrorist positons.
An RAF Reaper patrolled over the Euphrates on Tuesday 20 February, striking armed terrorists, including a pair on a motorcycle moving at high speed. On Wednesday 28 February, Typhoons attacked two Daesh armoured vehicles north-east of Abu Kamal. A second Typhoon flight destroyed a key road in the area, which will prevent the terrorists from moving heavy truck-bombs and equipment along it.
On Saturday 3 March, Typhoons demolished four Daesh buildings close to the border with Iraq. On Sunday 4 March, a Typhoon destroyed a tunnel used by the terrorists as a weapons cache, located in a remote area in northern Iraq.
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 cooperating with legitimate local authorities towards a stable, prosperous and united future for affected communities in both Iraq and Syria and ensuring that Daesh must not be allowed to re-emerge.