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.

Summary

Wednesday 9 May – Typhoons bombed a pair of terrorists in western Iraq.

Thursday 10 May – Typhoons destroyed a Daesh-held building in the Syrian Euphrates valley.

Monday 14 May – Typhoons bombed a terrorist mortar position in eastern Syria.

Sunday 20 May – Tornados attacked a Daesh tunnel complex south-west of Mosul.

Wednesday 23 May – Tornados struck a terrorist safe house in the western desert of Iraq.

Monday 28 May – Tornados bombed two terrorists in northern Iraq.

Wednesday 30 May – Tornados demolished a Daesh-held building in eastern Syria, close to the Euphrates.

Thursday 31 May – Typhoons and Tornados destroyed two compounds in eastern Syria, used by the terrorists as a headquarters and equipment store.

Friday 1 June – Typhoons hit a command post in eastern Syria.

Sunday 3 June – a Reaper attacked another command post in eastern Syria, whilst Typhoons collapsed the entrance to a terrorist tunnel.

Monday 4 June – a Reaper destroyed an armed terrorist truck concealed under cover in eastern Syria.

Tuesday 5 June – a Reaper killed two terrorists on a motorcycle in eastern Syria.

Friday 8 June – a Reaper demolished a Daesh-held building in eastern Syria, and struck terrorists in the open.

Saturday 9 June – a Reaper knocked out both an armed terrorist truck and a mortar in eastern Syria.

Sunday 10 June – a Reaper eliminated a light machine-gun position in eastern Syria.

Monday 11 June – Typhoons attacked a Daesh-occupied cave, tunnel and bunker in northern Iraq.

Tuesday 12 June – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist mortar in eastern Syria.

Detail

A flight of Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s were tasked on Wednesday 9 May to deal with two terrorists who had been spotted by a coalition surveillance aircraft as they moved on foot in the western desert of Iraq, some 25 miles south-east of Ar Rutbah. The Typhoons successfully located the terrorists and used a single Paveway IV guided bomb to strike them.

The following day, another Typhoon flight supported the Syrian Democratic Forces operating in the Euphrates valley. A large building, defended by Daesh extremists, had been identified to the north-north-west of Hajin. Having checked that there were no signs of any civilian presence in the vicinity, the Typhoons conducted an attack with two Paveway IVs which demolished the terrorist strongpoint.

Typhoons delivered a further attack against Daesh on Monday 14 May; a Paveway IV was employed to destroy successfully a mortar position and ammunition cache which had been spotted in eastern Syria. On Sunday 20 May, a pair of Tornado GR4s were tasked with the destruction of a tunnel complex which terrorists were attempting to reoccupy in the open countryside south-west of Mosul. Three tunnel entrances were identified, and each struck with a Paveway IV.

Daesh efforts to re-establish an operational presence in Iraq were struck a blow on Wednesday 23 May, when Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s guided a Paveway IV bomb onto a terrorist safe house which had been identified by intelligence at a remote wadi deep in the western desert of the country, some 65 miles south-east of Ar Rutbah. On Monday 28 May, a Tornado flight responded to a similar request for assistance when two Daesh extremists were spotted on a hillside in northern Iraq, some miles to the north of Makhmur; our aircraft delivered an attack with a Paveway IV.

Armed reconnaissance sorties also continued daily in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces in the east of the country. Two Paveway IVs from a Tornado flight scored direct hits on a Daesh strongpoint in a building to the north of Hajin, in the Euphrates valley, on Wednesday 30 May. The focus for RAF attacks for the remainder of the week were terrorist facilities in eastern Syria towards the border with Iraq. On Thursday 31 May, flights of Tornados and Typhoons joined forces to deliver an attack with twelve Paveway IVs against two large adjoining compounds, which were being used by Daesh as a headquarters, weapons store and muster point. All twelve weapons hit and destroyed their intended targets. The following day, a Typhoon flight employed a single Paveway IV to demolish a smaller command post in the same area.

An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over eastern Syria on Sunday 3 June. It provided surveillance support to a coalition air attack on a terrorist vehicle, then followed up with two attacks with its own Hellfire missiles against a further Daesh command post. Meanwhile, Typhoons used a Paveway IV to collapse the entrance to a terrorist tunnel.

A Reaper provided further close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces in the Euphrates valley on Monday 4 June. An armed terrorist truck was reported to be to the north of Abu Kamal, and the Reaper’s crew were able to identify the vehicle, parked under cover in an attempt to conceal it, after a thorough search. A Hellfire missile destroyed the vehicle, with a number of subsequent secondary explosions as ammunition on the vehicle caught fire. The following day, another Reaper operated over eastern Syria, some ten miles east of Al Shadadi. A pair of Daesh terrorists were tracked on a motorcycle, and both were killed by a direct hit from a Hellfire.

Reaper operations east of Al Shadadi continued on Friday 8 June; a terrorist was tracked to a building where he joined forces with other extremists, allowing the building to be struck with a Hellfire. The Reaper’s crew then conducted a further successful attack with a Hellfire as Daesh fighters sought new positions after artillery fire destroyed their previous location. On Friday 9 June, a Reaper used a Hellfire to destroyed a pick-up truck armed with a 23mm gun, which had been concealed under trees east of Al Shadadi. Another Hellfire missile then dealt with a mortar in the same area, with a number of secondary explosions following the attack on its position. A further Reaper attack east of Al Shadadi was conducted on Sunday 10 June, when our aircraft observed a light machine-gun position being set up in an orchard; a Hellfire quickly dealt with the threat.

Intelligence had allowed the identification of a small cluster of Daesh locations hidden in the hills south of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. A flight of Typhoons were tasked with their destruction on Monday 11 June, and they delivered a simultaneous attack with Paveway IVs against a tunnel and a cave, then a further attack to destroy a bunker dug into the hillside. The following day, a Reaper was again in action east of Al Shadadi; its crew spotted a mortar hidden in trees and destroyed it with a direct hit from a Hellfire, whilst a coalition aircraft then conducted a successful strike on the building nearby where the terrorist team, who had been operating the mortar, were seen to be hiding.

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

Friday 4 May – Typhoons destroyed a truck-bomb factory in eastern Syria, whilst Tornados struck a terrorist position and vehicle in the countryside south of Kirkuk.

Saturday 5 May – Typhoons and Tornados demolished six buildings and a defensive position used by Daesh in eastern Syria.

A similar operation was carried out by Tornados on Friday 4 May; their target on this occasion was a terrorist position hidden in remote woodland some distance south of Kirkuk. Again, two Paveways were used, one striking the position, another taking care of the terrorists’ truck, parked nearby. Meanwhile, in Syria, intelligence analysis had identified a truck-bomb factory in a compound, east of the town of Abu Kamal. A pair of Typhoons successfully destroyed the factory with three Paveway IVs.

Further strikes were conducted in eastern Syria the following day, Saturday 5 May. Typhoons employed Paveway IVs to destroy three buildings which were being used by Daesh as an operating base, as well as a nearby defensive position. A Tornado flight similarly dealt with a large Daesh security post, established in three more buildings; each received a direct hit from a Paveway.

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 15 June 2018 + show all updates
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