Update: air strikes against Daesh

British forces continue to conduct air operations in the fight against Daesh.

15 September 2016

Update: air strikes against Daesh

British forces have continued to conduct air operations in the fight against Daesh

Latest update
- Tuesday 6 September – Tornados destroyed a large group of Daesh vehicles near Qayyarah in northern Iraq.
- Thursday 8 September – Tornados struck a bomb factory, training facility, rocket launchers and two groups of terrorist fighters in northern Iraq.
- Friday 9 September – Typhoons destroyed a howitzer and its prime mover in western Iraq, while a Reaper silenced a mortar team near Qayyarah.
- Saturday 10 September – a Reaper destroyed mortar and rocket teams near Qayyarah.
- Sunday 11 September – Tornados bombed a Daesh strongpoint in eastern Syria, while a Reaper destroyed a further mortar team near Qayyarah.


Qayyarah remains the focus for significant Iraqi offensive operations, and Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to contribute to the supporting coalition air effort. On Tuesday 6 September, two Tornado GR4s used Paveway IV guided bombs and Brimstone missiles to attack a large dispersed group of mechanical excavators and heavy trucks being used by Daesh to construct defensive positions in the area; at least seven vehicles were destroyed outright. Tornados continued operations over northern Iraq on Thursday 8 September: intelligence had identified a bomb-making factory and associated terrorist training facility in neighbouring compounds to the west of Tall Afar. A pair of Tornados struck both targets accurately with Paveway IVs, then proceeded to provide close air support to local Iraqi forces, in the course of which they conducted a further successful Paveway attack against two rocket launchers. A second pair of Tornados meanwhile patrolled east of Mosul, where they used Paveway IVs against two groups of Daesh extremists who had been spotted by a coalition surveillance aircraft.

On Friday 9 September, Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to engage a howitzer which Daesh were attempting to bring into position some miles north of Ramadi. The artillery piece and its towing vehicle were well-concealed under trees, but the Typhoons were nevertheless able to score a direct hit with a Paveway IV. Near Qayyarah, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft spotted a mortar team as they uncovered their weapon and began firing at Iraqi positions, but a Hellfire missile quickly removed the threat. Reaper operations over Qayyarah continued on both Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September. On Saturday, a Reaper used a Hellfire to destroy a vehicle-borne mortar team, then located a large group of twelve rocket launchers being readied for firing. A Hellfire from the Reaper killed the terrorist who was preparing the weapons for launch, and the Reaper was then able to guide a coalition jet to the scene, so that it could use its larger guided bombs to destroy the rocket launchers. The following day, another Reaper successfully used a Hellfire against a further terrorist mortar team near Qayyarah. In eastern Syria, Tornados provided support to the Syrian democratic forces by using a salvo of four Paveway IVs to demolish a large building in which Daesh fighters, including snipers, had fortified themselves.

Previous air strikes

Tuesday 2 August: With Iraqi ground forces continuing their offensive to clear Daesh from the area around Qayyarah, a Royal Air Force Reaper provided close air support. The Reaper observed terrorists attempting to salvage a heavy machine-gun from a truck that had been hit by a previous coalition strike and successfully engaged them with a Hellfire missile. A second group of extremists were also attacked with another Hellfire. UK aircraft then provided targeting support that allowed a coalition fast jet to destroy a mortar team. Over Syria, a pair of Typhoons were similarly supporting the Syrian democratic forces as they fought to secure Manbij. A number of buildings on the south-western edge of the town had been fortified by Daesh as a major defensive position. These were successfully struck by the Typhoons, using eight Paveway IV guided bombs, despite the proximity of the moderate Syrian forces.

Wednesday 3 August: Tornados destroyed a Daesh mortar position while patrolling the north and west of Mosul.
Thursday 4 August: Tornados were again active over northern Iraq and conducted a Paveway IV attack on a machine-gun position in the hills to the north-west of Tall Afar. Meanwhile, Typhoons destroyed two Daesh-held buildings in western Iraq, while assisting Iraqi forces in the Euphrates Valley.

Sunday 7 August: Daesh were observed to be attempting to extract oil from one of the eastern Syrian oilfields which had been successfully targeted by previous coalition air strikes earlier this year. Two Tornados attacked a convoy of tankers north of Abu Kamal. Four Paveway IVs and four Brimstone missiles accounted for a number of vehicles, denying the terrorists the oil revenue they desperately seek. In northern Iraq, a Reaper and Typhoons were again supporting the Iraqi operations around Qayyarah. The Reaper conducted Hellfire attacks on a mortar team that was firing on the Iraqis and on a set of rocket rails. It then helped other coalition aircraft to successfully target an improvised armoured vehicle. The Typhoons also used three Paveway IVs to destroy three Daesh-held buildings.

Monday 8 August: A Reaper flew overwatch for Iraqi ground forces operating near Qayyarah in northern Iraq on and used a Hellfire missile to destroy a terrorist vehicle as it was tracked at speed along an open road. To the east of Mosul, a light artillery piece had been identified, positioned within a building. This was successfully attacked by Typhoons with a Paveway IV guided bomb.

Tuesday 9 August: Typhoons were active over the same area, conducting attacks with Paveway IVs which destroyed three Daesh-held buildings and a vehicle some 20 miles south-east of Mosul. The same day, a Reaper was again assigned to support Iraqi operations near Qayyarah. Its crew observed a Daesh team setting up a mortar and attacked with a Hellfire. It then used a second missile to destroy a mechanical excavator which was being used to help plant improvised explosive devices and tear up the carriageway of the main highway, in an attempt to hamper the Iraqi advance.
Wednesday 10 August: A Reaper patrolled over Manbij, where Syrian democratic forces have cleared Daesh from much of the town. The Reaper intervened in close combat that developed just to the north of Manbij and successfully used Hellfires to clear two groups of extremists engaged in a fire fight with the Syrian moderates. Over Iraq, Typhoons bombed an armed truck concealed under trees some miles to the south-east of Hit. A number of secondary explosions followed as associated ammunition caught fire.

Saturday 13 August: A Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided overwatch to Iraqi ground forces clearing terrorist positions in the Qayyarah region of northern Iraq. A number of groups of Daesh fighters, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, were active in the area, but were tracked down by the Reaper’s crew using the aircraft’s very capable surveillance sensors. Three successful attacks were conducted using the Reaper’s own Hellfire missiles, and the Reaper also made possible a further five attacks by coalition fast jets, which accounted for other groups of fighters, two vehicles and a mortar team.

Sunday 14 August: A second Reaper ensured that the Iraqi units continued to receive close support and this aircraft delivered two Hellfire attacks, again on Daesh rocket-propelled grenade teams.

Monday 15 August: Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager tanker, patrolled over western Iraq. Some miles north of Ramadi, they used a Paveway IV guided bomb against a terrorist mortar position.

Tuesday 16 August: Tornado GR4s and a Reaper conducted armed reconnaissance patrols over Syria; a coalition surveillance aircraft spotted a Daesh heavy artillery piece to the south of Manbij, and the Tornados were tasked to deal with it. The gun and an ammunition stockpile were concealed within a treeline at the edge of a road, but a pair of Paveway IVs struck their targets. The Reaper operated over south-eastern Syria, where it used a Hellfire to destroy an anti-aircraft gun mounted on a truck, around 40 miles north of Al Tanf.

Wednesday 17 August: A Reaper was again in action near Qayyarah, when it successfully engaged yet another group of Daesh terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades; a number of secondary explosions followed the impact of the Hellfire missile as the grenades caught fire. Typhoons also continued their patrols over western Iraq, along the Euphrates valley to the north-west of Ramadi, and here they used a Paveway IV to destroy an armed truck which the extremists had tried in vain to conceal under a large vehicle shelter.

Thursday 18 August: Tornados operating over northern Iraq. A coalition aircraft spotted a group of extremists hidden in a position beneath trees on the southern bank of the Great Zab River, and these were successfully attacked by the GR4s using a Paveway IV. The Tornados then conducted a further such attack on a Daesh machine-gun position, several miles to the south of Sinjar.

Friday 19 August: A Reaper and a pair of Tornados worked together near Qayyarah against a number of terrorist rocket and mortar teams. The Reaper observed a mortar firing from a compound at Iraqi forces, and responded with a successful Hellfire missile attack. The Reaper then provided support to the Tornados as they used a pair of Paveway IVs against a widely dispersed group of rocket-launchers. The Tornados also used a Brimstone missile to destroy a second mortar team, and another Paveway IV to strike an additional set of rocket rails.
Saturday 20 August: Another Reaper patrolled over Qayyarah, again hunting for a reported mortar team. The target was tracked down and successfully prosecuted using a Hellfire.

Sunday 21 August: a Typhoon flight bombed an armed truck a few miles to the north-west of Ramadi, on the northern bank of the Euphrates, while Tornados were active once more over northern Iraq; a Paveway IV attack struck a terrorist position to the south-west of Kirkuk, and a Brimstone missile was used to destroy a T-62 tank operated by Daesh to the north of Mosul.

Monday 22 August: Two Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s operated over northern Iraq. A group of Daesh extremists had been located, sheltering in a cave amongst hills on the southern bank of the Tigris, overlooking the river, some miles to the north-west of Mosul. The Typhoons used one Paveway IV guided bomb to attack the cave entrance, and a second to destroy the terrorists’ vehicle, parked on a nearby track.

Wednesday 24 August: Iraqi security forces continue to mount offensive operations against Daesh near Qayyarah, and they were well supported by coalition aircraft, including an RAF Reaper and a pair of Tornado GR4s. The GR4s were primarily deployed in the reconnaissance role, but conducted two attacks with Brimstone missiles against terrorists engaged in combat with the Iraqi troops. The Reaper provided surveillance support to other coalition aircraft which delivered an air strike on a Daesh strongpoint, and carried out five attacks with its own weaponry: four Hellfire missiles accounted for two mortar teams and two groups of terrorists manoeuvring along narrow alleyways, and a GBU-12 laser guided bomb destroyed several rocket-launchers which another coalition surveillance aircraft had spotted set up outside the town.

Thursday 25 August: Typhoons, supported as is normal by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, patrolled the Euphrates valley west of Ramadi, where they used a Paveway IV to attack a Daesh-held building on the northern river-bank. Over Syria, a pair of Tornados used two Brimstone missiles to engage a number of terrorists spotted occupying positions under trees in farmland in the east of the country.

Saturday 27 August: A Reaper supported the Iraqi security forces advancing near Qayyarah. The aircraft spotted a heavy vehicle transporter being used by Daesh to move one of the mechanical excavators that are used to construct their fortified positions. Both the transporter and the excavator were destroyed by coalition fast jets, guided to the scene by the Reaper. The Reaper crew subsequently tracked an armed Daesh truck withdrawing from a nearby compound and attempted to conceal the vehicle in shed. A direct hit from a Hellfire missile destroyed the building and the truck inside.

Sunday 28 August: A Typhoon patrol over western Iraq used a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs to destroy a dispersed group of rocket-launching rails hidden amidst trees on the northern bank of the Euphrates.

Monday 29 August: Typhoons operating ten miles north of Mosul delivered a Paveway attack on a bunker and tunnel network. A number of secondary explosions ensued, most likely from stored ammunition.

Tuesday 30 August: Typhoons operating over the same area north of Mosul conducted successful attacks with Paveway IVs on a further three tunnels. An excavator preparing defences nearby was also destroyed.

Wednesday 31 August: A Typhoon patrol found its target 15 miles to the east of Mosul, where advancing Iraqi forces had identified a Daesh-held building. It was hit with a Paveway IV leading to number of secondary explosions.

Thursday 1 September: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft operated over Raqqa in Syria, where its crew helped identify a large stockpile of explosive materials at an industrial site, awaiting the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and other home-made weaponry. An attack using Hellfire missiles destroyed much of the stockpile, and left the remainder on fire. Near Qayyarah, Tornados providing close air support to Iraqi ground forces conducted a successful Paveway IV attack against a weapons cache hidden in a line of trees.

Saturday 3 September: A Reaper kept close watch on a Daesh vehicle check-point in north-western Iraq, in the Tall Afar region, which was being used by the terrorists to harass local civilian traffic. The Reaper’s crew waited patiently until there were no civilian vehicles in the area, then destroyed the check-point with a direct hit from a Hellfire.

Sunday 4 September: Typhoons patrolled over western Iraq and engaged a group of terrorists who had been spotted several miles north of Ramadi. Although they attempted to seek cover beneath some trees, the extremists were struck accurately by a Paveway IV.
Details of previous airstrikes can be found here.
For more information see Daesh: UK government response page on GOV.UK