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Update: air strikes against Daesh

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


  • Friday 8 May – Reaper destroyed a Daesh bunker in northern Iraq.
  • Sunday 10 May – Typhoons successfully struck Daesh targets in northern Iraq.
  • Wednesday 13 May – Reapers hit two Daesh bunkers in northern Iraq.
  • Saturday 23 May – Reaper destroyed a group of Daesh terrorists in northern Iraq.


The Royal Air Force has conducted four sets of air strikes against Daesh this month, as the UK Armed Forces continue to support the Iraq Government’s fight against the terror group.

The strikes, which were conducted over northern Iraq, were all successful in hitting their targets and come after two similar operations in April, which were the UK’s first such activity in seven months.

Since liberating the last territory held by Daesh, in March 2019, the RAF has flown daily armed reconnaissance patrols to prevent the violent extremists from re-establishing footholds in Iraq or Syria, and remain ready to strike whenever required.

Precision strikes result from the patient and methodical production of actionable intelligence, and are only conducted after thorough surveillance of the target and surrounding area for any signs of civilians, ensuring they are not placed at risk.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

These strikes are another example of how the UK Armed Forces protect our nation and allies, every single day, from all those who seek to do us harm.

On 8 May, an RAF Reaper kept close watch on a bunker containing a group of Daesh fighters, west of Tuz Khurmatu, in northern Iraq. When the Reaper’s crew had identified the ideal moment to strike, the bunker was destroyed using a GBU-12 guided bomb.

On 10 May, a pair of Typhoon FGR4s, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew an armed reconnaissance patrol over northern Iraq. Coalition surveillance aircraft had located a cave system occupied by Daesh terrorists southeast of Hatra, on the banks of the Tharthar River. Three targets at the entrances to the caves were identified and each was successfully struck by a Paveway IV guided bomb.

On 13 May, Reapers again saw action west of Tuz Khurmatu, when two of the RAF’s aircraft used GBU-12s to destroy a further pair of Daesh-occupied bunkers.

On 23 May, a group of Daesh fighters were located hiding in woods, along with stored equipment. A patrolling Reaper dropped one GBU-12, which hit its targets and caused secondary explosions, indicating the likely presence of a significant stockpile of munitions.

Previous update

The Royal Air Force continues to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions over Iraq and eastern Syria as part of the global coalition against the Daesh terrorist movement.

On the night of Tuesday 28 April, a pair of Typhoons, operating out of RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager aerial refuelling tanker, joined other coalition aircraft in an attack on a series of caves north-east of Bayji in northern Iraq.

The Typhoons targeted six cave entrances where intelligence had confirmed a group of Daesh terrorists were based.

Following a thorough check of the surrounding area for any signs of non-combatants, the aircraft used Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to strike all six of the caves.

Surveillance confirmed all the weapons struck their targets successfully, removing more Daesh fighters from the battlefield and further downgrading the terrorist movement.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

The strikes continue because the Daesh threat is relentless and so will we be.

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

Published 29 January 2016
Last updated 29 May 2020 + show all updates
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