News story

Update: air strikes against Daesh

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

A Royal Air Force Typhoon departs on a mission supporting Operation Shader in support of the Counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria. Crown Copyright.
A Royal Air Force Typhoon departs on a mission supporting Operation Shader in support of the Counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria. Crown Copyright.


Thursday 8 March – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist drone in eastern Syria.

Saturday 10 March – Typhoons bombed a Daesh drone team in eastern Syria.

Sunday 11 March – Tornados eliminated a small group of terrorists in northern Iraq.

Sunday 18 March – a Reaper killed two terrorists on a motorcycle in eastern Syria.

Monday 26 March - a Reaper destroyed a terrorist vehicle in eastern Syria.


Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions over eastern Syria against Daesh. A terrorist drone was reported north of Abu Kamal in the Euphrates valley of Syria on Thursday 8 March, and an RAF Reaper was tasked with hunting for it. The Reaper’s crew spotted the conventional winged drone on a flat roof where it had landed. Having conducted a careful check for any signs of civilian life in the area, the drone was then destroyed by a direct hit from a Hellfire missile. In similar fashion, a Typhoon flight armed with Paveway IV guided bombs s was able to strike successfully a Daesh team flying a quadcopter drone from a building in the Euphrates valley on Saturday 10 March.

A further attack was conducted in Iraq on Sunday 11 March; coalition surveillance had identified a small group of Daesh extremists in a hilly region some 25 miles south east of Qayyarah and the Iraqi security forces requested assistance in dealing with them. Two Tornado GR4s eliminated the Daesh group with a single Paveway IV, thus preventing any effort to re-establish terrorist activities in the area.

On Sunday 18 March, a Reaper tracked a pair of terrorists on a motorcycle south-east of As Shadadi in eastern Syria. It became clear that they were operating as a mobile checkpoint in an attempt to exert control over the local area. The Reaper’s crew waited until the motorcycle was in open country, and despite its high speed, achieved a direct hit with a Hellfire which killed both of the Daesh extremists.

A Reaper tracked a group of terrorists in a vehicle in the Syrian Euphrates valley on Monday 26 March, and successfully destroyed it and its occupants with a precision Hellfire missile attack.

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

Thursday 1 February: Several coalition aircraft, including an RAF Reaper and two Tornados, supported the SDF as they cleared a village of terrorists. 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.

Friday 2 February: Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building.

Saturday 3 February: Typhoons demolished a further two such buildings , whilst a Reaper destroyed another.

Sunday 4 February: a Reaper hit another building held by a large group of terrorists.

Monday 5 February: a Reaper struck a pair of terrorists riding a motorcycle at speed across countryside.

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.

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.

Saturday 10 February: 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.

Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air-refuelling tanker, conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over the Euphrates river in eastern Syria on Wednesday 14 February, in support of the continuing operations by the Syrian Democratic Forces to eliminate the Daesh presence in the area. A mechanical excavator, used by the terrorists to construct fortified positions, was identified and destroyed by a Paveway IV guided bomb.

Heavy cloud hampered, but did not prevent, effective air operations in eastern Syria on Friday 16 February. A flight of Typhoons and a flight of Tornado GR4s worked closely with the Syrian Democratic Forces; the troops on the ground were able to identify five positions held by Daesh extremists, in some cases with vehicles alongside them, and the locations were passed to our aircraft. Each of the five locations was then attacked with a Paveway IV through the cloud, and in each case the SDF reported that a successful strike had been delivered.

An RAF Reaper patrolled over the Euphrates on Tuesday 20 February, using its advanced surveillance capabilities to scout ahead of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The Reaper’s crew conducted two attacks with Hellfire missiles on identified armed terrorists, including a successful strike against a pair on a motorcycle moving at high speed.

Royal Air Force aircraft continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance patrols over eastern Syria, but the next air strikes did not occur until Wednesday 28 February. One flight of Typhoons delivered attacks with Paveway IVs against two Daesh armoured vehicles spotted by the Syrian Democratic Forces to the north-east of Abu Kamal, with one of the weapons being accurately delivered through cloud against a target which the aircrew could not themselves see. A second Typhoon flight conducted Paveway attacks on a key road in the area, cratering it to prevent the terrorists from moving equipment along it, particularly heavy truck-bombs.

Coalition intelligence analysis identified a group of four buildings in eastern Syria as a terrorist base, situated close to the border with Iraq. Two Typhoons, supported by coalition surveillance aircraft, conducted an attack on Saturday 3 March, and demolished all four buildings with direct hits from Paveway IVs.

Although Daesh have been defeated within Iraq, RAF and other coalition aircraft have remained available to support the Iraqi security forces as necessary. On Sunday 4 March, a Typhoon flight was tasked with the destruction of a tunnel, used by the terrorists as a weapons storage area, located in a remote area in northern Iraq, more than 15 miles south-east of Hawijah. Our aircraft destroyed the tunnel, and the weapons cache therein, with two Paveway IVs.

Details of previous airstrikes can be found here.

For more information see Daesh: UK government response page on GOV.UK

Published 29 January 2016
Last updated 4 April 2018 + show all updates
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