Armed reconnaissance sorties have continued daily in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State.
Two Paveway IVs from a Tornado flight scored direct hits on a Islamic State strongpoint in a building to the north of Hajin, in the Euphrates valley, on Wednesday 30th of May say the MoD. The focus for RAF attacks for the remainder of the week were terrorist facilities in eastern Syria towards the border with Iraq.
Later in the week, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over eastern Syria on Sunday the 3rd of 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 Islamic State 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 4th 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 Islamic State 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 8th 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 Islamic State fighters sought new positions after artillery fire destroyed their previous location.
On Friday 9th 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 10th June, when our aircraft observed a light machine-gun position being set up in an orchard; a Hellfire quickly dealt with the threat.
Status of the campaign
RAF aircraft have carried out nearly 1,700 strikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria since 2014. The UK have deployed Reaper UAVs, Typhoon jets and Tornados, have conducted significant ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions and have provided additional air support such as inflight refuelling and transporting.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“The UK will not be complacent when it comes to terrorism – a point I reaffirmed with my Global Coalition counterparts today. We pledged to continue to fight terrorists until their poisonous global network is totally destroyed. Despite Daesh’s diminishing territory, it is hell-bent on directing and inspiring terrorist attacks worldwide – threatening our security at home and abroad. The threat they pose is evolving and intensifying but our resolve to defeat them will not fade.”
The MoD say it is working to ‘secure Daesh’s lasting defeat’ by working with legitimate local authorities to ensure a stable, prosperous and united future for affected communities in both Iraq and Syria. Daesh must not be allowed to re-emerge. It was recently reported that the Royal Air Force is operating at its most intense for 25 years in a single theatre of operation which far outstripped the UK involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan – RAF jets have dropped 11 times more bombs (1,276 strikes) on Syria and Iraq in the preceding 12 months than they had in the busiest year of action in Afghanistan a decade previously.
The MoD says the operation has cost the UK taxpayers £265 million so far.