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.


Wednesday 12 September – a Reaper killed several terrorists in combat in eastern Syria.

Friday 14 September – Tornados struck a building in eastern Syria where suicide bombers were based.

Saturday 15 September – Typhoons bombed two entrances to a Daesh tunnel network in northern Iraq.

Monday 17 September – Typhoons attacked a terrorist position in western Iraq.

Tuesday 18 September – a Reaper conducted two attacks on Daesh extremists in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Wednesday 19 September – a Reaper delivered two attacks on terrorist positions in eastern Syria, whilst Typhoons bombed a Daesh command post.

Friday 21 September – a Reaper killed a Daesh motorcyclist, whilst Typhoons and Tornados struck four terrorist positions in eastern Syria.

Saturday 22 September – Tornados collapsed a tunnel in northern Iraq, whilst other Tornados and Typhoons bombed three terrorist-held buildings in eastern Syria.

Sunday 23 September – a Reaper conducted three attacks on Daesh extremists, including a heavy weapons team, in eastern Syria, whilst Typhoons destroyed two further terrorist positions.

Monday 24 September – a Reaper attacked Daesh drone and mortar teams, as well as two other terrorist positions in eastern Syria; Typhoons and Tornados hit three further targets.

Tuesday 25 September – a Reaper destroyed a mortar firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Wednesday 26 September – Typhoons struck a Daesh strong-point in eastern Syria.

Thursday 27 September – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist stockpile of explosives in eastern Syria.

Friday 28 September – Tornados bombed a Daesh-held building and a command post in eastern Syria.

Saturday 29 September – Typhoons silenced a Daesh sniper and hit a concealed weapons cache, whilst Tornados demolished a terrorist-held building in eastern Syria.

Sunday 30 September – a Reaper destroyed an armoured truck in eastern Syria, Typhoons struck a Daesh-held building.


A Reaper supported the SDF on Wednesday 12 September as they mounted an offensive towards Abu Kamal, at the southern end of the one significant remaining pockets of Daesh-held territory in eastern Syria, near Hajin. Daesh fighters were observed in action on the outskirts of a village to the east of Abu Kamal, throwing grenades and firing a machine-gun. The terrorists took cover beneath the overhang of a building, but the Reaper’s crew were able to guide a Hellfire missile very accurately to strike them.

On Friday 14 September, a building east of Abu Kamal was confirmed to be a base for Daesh suicide bombers. A Tornado flight conducted an attack using two Paveway IVs, which demolished the building.

Support has also continued to be given to the Iraqi security forces as they continue their work to prevent Daesh resuming operations inside the country. On Saturday 15 September, a coalition surveillance aircraft identified two entrances to a tunnel network used by the terrorists, concealed in the hills above the Tigris some fifteen miles north-west of Mosul, and guided a pair of Typhoon FGR4s to the target. Each of the tunnel entrances was successfully struck in turn, using Paveway IVs, and collapsed.

Close support continued to be provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces advancing against Daesh around Abu Kamal. On Tuesday 18 September, a Reaper observed a large group of terrorists moving into a building very close to the SDF. A Hellfire missile was used to strike one part of the building, which successfully dealt with most of the terrorists, while a second missile eliminated a smaller group positioned outside.

The following day, a Reaper was again on station over the Abu Kamal area, and its crew conducted two successful attacks with Hellfires on terrorists several miles to the north of the town, concealed in a treeline. Meanwhile, a pair of Paveway IV-armed Typhoons bombed a Daesh command post identified just to the east of Abu Kamal.

Friday 21 September saw a Reaper, Typhoons and Tornados all in action near Abu Kamal. The Reaper used a Hellfire missile to kill a terrorist on a motorcycle in the area. Typhoons used one Paveway IV against a group of extremists whom a coalition surveillance aircraft had spotted moving in the open, then employed a further three such weapons against a long, low building occupied by other Daesh fighters. Meanwhile, two Tornados provided close support to the SDF who had encountered two buildings held by terrorists; a highly accurate attack destroyed both positions and removed the threat.

In northern Iraq, the security forces tracked several terrorists to a set of tunnels in the bank of the Tigris, a few miles north of Bayji, on Saturday 22 September. A pair of Tornados on a reconnaissance mission were diverted to the area, and they were able to achieve a direct hit on the tunnel entrance. A second pair of Tornados patrolled east of Abu Kamal, and employed a Paveway IV to destroy a building used by Daesh as a weapons store on the banks of the Euphrates. Typhoons bombed a terrorist-held building in the same area.

A Reaper carried out three attacks on Daesh positions near Abu Kamal on Sunday 23 September. Firstly, a heavy weapon was observed being fired from the upper floor of a three-storey building, but this was silenced by a Hellfire missile. A further Hellfire was used against a terrorist-held building close to an SDF position, and a GBU-12 guided bomb destroyed another such building. The latter attack resulted in a series of secondary explosions, indicating that ammunition or explosives had probably been stockpiled inside. Typhoons similarly provided close support to the SDF, eliminating another terrorist strong-point, then flew upstream to the Hajin area where they bombed a terrorist storage point.

On Monday 24 September, a Reaper tracked two terrorist groups as they gathered at a building north-east of Abu Kamal; another coalition surveillance aircraft confirmed that they were respectively Daesh drone and mortar teams. A Hellfire missile eliminated most of the group, and a second missile took out the remainder who had attempted to hide in a nearby orchard. Later, the Reaper’s crew came to the assistance of the SDF who had come under fire from a Daesh-held building. Despite the proximity of the SDF, a GBU-12 guided bomb was successfully employed to eliminate the threat. Again, in the Abu Kamal area, a flight of Typhoons destroyed two more Daesh-held buildings with Paveway IVs, whilst Tornados attacked a group of terrorists concealed in a treeline.

Further close support was provided to the SDF on Tuesday 25 September, when a Reaper caught a Daesh mortar in the act of firing, north of Abu Kamal. The mortar team was hit with a GBU-12. The next day, Typhoons used a single Paveway IV to demolish a terrorist strong-point north-east of the town. On Thursday 27 September, a Reaper used a single Hellfire missile to attack a building north-east of Abu Kamal, which had been identified as containing a Daesh stockpile of explosives. Large secondary blasts followed the missile’s impact, confirming the destruction of the explosives inside.

Tornados and Typhoons gave further assistance to the SDF on Saturday 29 September after a sniper opened fire on them from the upper storey of an abandoned school, but the Typhoons used a Paveway IV with great precision, destroying the floor from which the fire had been coming, but causing as little damage as possible to the remainder of the former school. The Typhoons then conducted a second attack to destroy a cache of weapons hidden in woodland. Meanwhile, the Tornados bombed a building occupied by a number of terrorists.

A Reaper’s crew tracked an armoured truck as it drove at speed north-east of Abu Kamal on Sunday 30 September; a Hellfire missile scored a direct hit on the vehicle, destroying it. Typhoons struck a Daesh-occupied building on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, just across the river from Abu Kamal.

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

Support continues to be given by Royal Air Force and other coalition aircraft to the Iraqi security forces as they maintain their efforts to prevent Daesh elements re-establishing an operational presence in the country. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified a terrorist truck concealed under trees in a remote area of countryside, some 40 miles east-north-east of Tikrit. A flight of Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, conducted a successful attack on the vehicle using a single Paveway IV guided bomb on Wednesday 1 August.

Armed reconnaissance patrols continued to be flown daily by RAF aircraft over Syria and Iraq, and on Friday 17 August, a Daesh target was identified in northern Iraq. Terrorists had occupied a large building in the desert, a number of miles to the west-north-west of Bayji. Once a coalition surveillance aircraft had checked the surrounding area for any signs of civilian presence, a pair of Tornados conducted an attack with Paveway bombs which demolished the building and also destroyed a vehicle used by the terrorists. A further terrorist was observed on foot close by after the attack, and was struck by a Brimstone missile.

On Thursday 23 August, a Reaper patrolled over the Euphrates valley in Syria. A building occupied by Daesh was identified, and hit with a single Hellfire missile.

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 3 September 2018 + show all updates
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