5 November 2015 Ministry of Defence
ISIL terrorists in Iraq have been struck repeatedly by Royal Air Force air strikes conducted over the past week in support of the Iraqi forces fighting on the ground.
Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Iraqi troops operating near Bayji on Thursday 29 October. A number of ISIL terrorists were observed manoeuvring towards an Iraqi position, and our aircraft successfully attacked three groups with Paveway IV guided bombs. Later that day, another GR4 flight conducted a strike on a fortified terrorist position near Tal Afar in the north-west of the country, hitting three targets with Paveways.
On Friday 30 October, a pair of GR4s again provided close air support to the Iraqi army, on this occasion near the occupied city of Ramadi. Two Paveways successfully disrupted an attempted terrorist attack on an Iraqi unit. The ISIL terrorists then opened fire on the Iraqis with two light anti-aircraft cannons. Despite difficult weather conditions, the highly capable GR4s were able to target the gun positions using a second pair of Paveway IVs, and both terrorist guns were knocked out and the threat to them removed.
On Sunday 1 November, an RAF Reaper used a Hellfire missile to destroy a group of terrorists in close combat with Iraqi troops, while a second Reaper, operating over Anbar province, worked in close cooperation with coalition fast jets to assist Iraqi operations to isolate the ISIL terrorists in and around Ramadi. The Reaper provided surveillance support to six coalition air strikes on terrorists manoeuvring in the area, and conducted four highly accurate strikes of its own using Hellfire missiles on groups of extremists as they attempted to reposition themselves against the advancing Iraqi forces. In north-west Iraq, Tornado GR4s were meanwhile supporting Kurdish peshmerga near Sinjar: three Paveway attacks destroyed an armed pick-up truck, a weapons cache, and a sniper position.
The following day, Monday 2 November, a Reaper conducted three successful strikes with two Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb against ISIL terrorist positions in western Iraq, including an anti-aircraft gun which the Reaper had located.
On Tuesday 3 November, a GR4 patrol again provided support to the Kurdish forces near Sinjar. A Brimstone missile destroyed a terrorist weapons cache, and a Paveway destroyed a mortar position on the top of a building.
On the ground, the coalition effort to train and equip the Iraqi security forces continues apace, with British military instructors playing a significant role, in particular leading the training programme on how to counter the threat from improvised terrorist explosive devices and booby-traps. RAF Sentinel surveillance aircraft play an important part in the coalition’s collection of intelligence on ISIL positions and movements, while Hercules transports provide the essential logistic support to the headquarters and training teams deployed in Iraq and neighbouring partner nations.