A Royal Air Force Reaper crew intervened during a public execution staged by Islamic State in Abu Kamal, Syria, killing a guard and dispersing the crowd gathered to witness the atrocity.

An RAF Reaper crew observed a group of Islamic State fighters in Abu Kamal, eastern Syria, mustering a large crowd of civilians in one of the town’s main streets on Tuesday. When a van then unloaded two shackled prisoners in front of the crowd, it became clear that the group were organising a public execution according to a press release.

Given the large number of civilians present, the Reaper’s crew could not target the fighters directly. However, two armed extremists were stationed as sentries on the roof of a building overlooking the scene.

A Hellfire missile was fired immediately and scored a direct hit which not only killed one of the sentries but also brought the execution to an immediate halt, as the fighters fled the scene and the crowd of civilians dispersed.

The following day, Typhoons also patrolled over Syria, and successfully struck a mortar team that was firing on Syrian Democratic Forces some five miles north of Raqqa. Tornados also operated over western Mosul, where they used a Brimstone missile to silence a sniper team which had opened fire on Iraqi troops, and used a Paveway IV against an Islamic State-held building.

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I would like to see a cheaper counterpart to Hellfire or Brimstone being integrated onto the Protector fleet when they arrive, to deal with situations like this, when use of a Hellfire or Brimstone is really overkill. Perhaps the Martlet (though not sure how its cost compares with Hellfire) or possibly precision-guided rockets, or even a gun pod. I know that in these situations civilian casualties must be avoided, but when I read MoD reports that a Hellfire or Brimstone has been used to take out a sniper or mortar team, it just seems to me that the job could… Read more »