News story

Update: air strikes against Daesh

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

Summary

  • Thursday 19 January – A Reaper assisted Iraqi forces clearing pockets of Daesh resistance in northern Mosul, conducting three attacks against terrorists.

  • Friday 20 January – A Reaper continued operations over northern Mosul, striking a concealed armed truck.

  • Monday 23 January – Tornados destroyed a command post, tunnel and a vehicle in northern Iraq.

Detail

With most districts of Mosul east of the Tigris reported by the Iraqi commander to have been liberated, operations by Iraqi units have focused on clearing remaining pockets of Daesh resistance in the north of the city. RAF Reapers supported this work on 19 and 20 January.

On Thursday 19 January, a Reaper conducted three precision attacks using Hellfire missiles against small groups of terrorists spotted firing at Iraqi troops.

During operations on Friday 20 January, a Reaper identified a Daesh observation team at work, which enabled an attack by a coalition aircraft. The Reaper also provided surveillance support to two other successful coalition air attacks, before using one of its own Hellfires to destroy an armed truck which Daesh had attempted to conceal under a vehicle shelter.

After the Iraqi victory in eastern Mosul, valuable reconnaissance patrols were conducted over both Syria and Iraq, not only by Tornados, Typhoons and Reapers, but also the highly capable Sentinel surveillance aircraft.

On Monday 23 January, Tornados, supported by a Voyager air-refuelling tanker, attacked a Daesh command post near the town of Mullah Abdullah, west of Kirkuk. A Brimstone missile and a Paveway IV guided bomb were used simultaneously. The Brimstone destroyed a truck parked outside, with the Paveway impacting shortly afterwards to demolish the building and collapse an associated tunnel.

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

New Year’s Day: Similar Reaper operations occurred on New Year’s Day, with our aircraft destroying a group of terrorists with one Hellfire, then using a second to knock out an armed truck which it had spotted reversing in and out of cover to fire bursts from a heavy machine-gun. A flight of Typhoon FGR4s were also active over northern Mosul, where they used a Paveway IV to attack a mortar position just to the north of the city.

Monday 2 January: The British military training mission in Iraq sadly suffered a fatality when Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington from the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment died in a non-combat incident at a training camp in Taji. Further information can be found here.

A Reaper patrol also on 2 January over Mosul provided surveillance support to coalition air strikes on terrorist fighters, including a recoilless anti-tank gun team, and employed a Hellfire to silence a Daesh rooftop position that was firing on Iraqi troops.

3 January: A further Reaper attack occurred in south-east Mosul, striking a pair of terrorists who were in close proximity to Iraqi forces, whilst some 20 miles south of Kirkuk, a Tornado flight destroyed a Daesh truck with a Paveway IV.

Wednesday 4 January: Two flights of Royal Air Force Typhoons carried out attacks on Daesh targets in northern and western Iraq. One pair of Typhoons headed to a site north of Tall Afar, where intelligence had located a group of three buildings used by Daesh to manufacture truck-bombs. All three buildings were demolished using Paveway IV guided bombs. The second flight, also armed with Paveway IVs, successfully targeted a bridge used by the terrorists to cross a tributary of the Euphrates in Anbar province.

Thursday 5 January: The main focus for RAF and other Coalition aircraft has remained the providing close air support to Iraqi operations to liberate Mosul. A Tornado mission used a Paveway IV to destroy a mortar position in central Mosul. Meanwhile, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft flew overwatch for Iraqi troops advancing in the south-eastern area of the city. Our aircraft conducted three very precise attacks with Hellfire missiles against extremists as they fought with the Iraqis, and provided surveillance support to three further strikes by other Coalition aircraft.

Friday 6 January: Reaper operations over south-east Mosul continued, with three more Hellfire attacks which killed Daesh fighters engaged in very close-quarter combat with the Iraqi forces. Assistance was also provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces in their offensive towards Raqqa, with a pair of Typhoons bombing a Deash sniper position on the north-eastern shore of Lake Assad.

Saturday 7 January: A Reaper again used the precision of its Hellfire missiles to hit terrorists twice during street-fighting in south-eastern Mosul.

Sunday 8 January: Further Typhoon operations in support of the SDF west of Raqqa, destroying an artillery piece hidden in woods was hit with a Paveway IV. A Tornado flight also patrolled over northern Iraq, using a pair of Paveway IVs to destroy a truck-bomb workshop some 35 miles south-west of Kirkuk. A further pair of Paveways were used to attack a stockpile of weapons buried in shipping containers south of Sinjar. A Reaper, as ever maintaining a presence over Mosul, meanwhile observed a group of Daesh attempting to cross the Tigris in a small boat. A direct hit from a Hellfire completely destroyed the craft.

Monday 9 January: A pair of Tornados patrolled north of Mosul, assisting Iraqi forces as they cleared Daesh positions near Nineveh. The Iraqi troops came under fire from a Daesh-held building, as well as from a small group of extremists concealed under the canopy of another building. The Tornados were able to conduct a simultaneous attack on both targets, demolishing the first building with a Paveway IV guided bomb, and hitting those under the canopy with a Brimstone missile. A coalition aircraft had meanwhile identified a lorry-bomb nearby. Our Tornados destroyed the target with a second Brimstone. RAF aircraft then turned their attention to southern Mosul, where an armoured truck had been spotted. The truck was destroyed with a further Brimstone missile.

Tuesday 10 January: An RAF Reaper supported Iraqi troops as they advanced further into central Mosul. The Reaper’s crew identified a Daesh mortar team trying to conceal their activity in a wooded area, and struck them with a Hellfire missile. A second Hellfire accounted for a group of terrorists close to an Iraqi unit. In the confusion of the street fighting, the Reaper observed Daesh firing on each other, with at least one terrorist killed by their own side.

Wednesday 11 January: Reaper operations over Mosul continued. Our aircraft conducted one attack in northern Mosul against a group of Daesh caught in the open. It then kept watch on a building where over a dozen Daesh fighters were observed assembling. The surveillance effort enabled a successful strike by a coalition fast jet which demolished the building. The Reaper then moved to patrol over eastern Mosul, where another coalition aircraft had successfully disabled a car-bomb. A Hellfire missile from the Reaper destroyed the threat outright.

Thursday 12 January: During the battle for Mosul, small armed remotely piloted aerial vehicles with grenades have been used by Daesh a number of times to harass Iraqi troops, with reports suggesting they have also been used to target civilian refugees. A building in the southern area of central Mosul was identified as being used as a base for these drones and their operators. A pair of Royal Air Force Typhoons targeted the site, demolishing the building with two Paveway IV guided bombs. Over south-east Mosul, a Reaper meanwhile flew overwatch for Iraqi troops as they cleared further Daesh positions. The Reaper’s crew were able to identify a number of terrorists armed with heavy and light machine-guns firing at the Iraqi forces, and conducted three successful attacks with Hellfire missiles which eliminated the threat posed.

Friday 13 January: Two Tornados patrolled over northern Iraq, and were directed to a tunnel entrance which had been identified some 15 miles west of Kirkuk. Two Paveway IVs collapsed the entrance and set off secondary explosions from inside the tunnel. Reaper operations over Mosul continued, with our aircraft spotting a group of terrorists as they loaded a heavy rocket into a truck. They and the vehicle were promptly struck by a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then provided surveillance support to two Coalition air strikes which destroyed a heavy machine-gun position and a bridge.

Saturday 14 January: RAF Reapers have also been conducting armed reconnaissance patrols near Tall Afar, and one of our aircraft responded to a report from another Coalition surveillance aircraft which had identified a pair of armed trucks concealed in vehicle sheds some 30 miles to the south-west of the town. Both vehicles were destroyed using Hellfire missiles.

Monday 16 January: RAF Typhoons, armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, delivered an attack ten miles north-west of Mosul to breach a large defensive berm held by Daesh against the Kurdish Peshmerga. The Typhoons then flew to Mosul itself, where they first destroyed a terrorist strongpoint that dominated a road junction in central Mosul, then attacked a key route used by Daesh to move supplies and truck-bombs. A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft meanwhile provided close support to Iraqi forces engaged in close combat with Daesh. The Reaper used a Hellfire missile to kill a group of terrorists during street fighting.

Tuesday 17 January: Reaper support to the Iraqi units continued, when a car-bomb was spotted, hidden under a car-port in a newly liberated area of northern Mosul. The Reaper kept watch as the Iraqi security forces moved civilians in the area to safety, then destroyed the car-bomb with a direct hit from a Hellfire. Some 20 miles north-west of the city, a tunnel network had been identified close to the southern bank of the Tigris, and two Typhoons were tasked with its destruction. A Paveway IV struck the entrance, collapsing it.

Wednesday 18 January: Surveillance and strike operations have also been maintained against Daesh in Syria, Tornados conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol near Al Bab, where they used a Paveway IV to destroy an armed truck which Daesh had attempted to conceal in a vehicle shelter.

Details of previous airstrikes can be found here.

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