Op SHADER, RAF Typhoon, 1(F) Squadron (Crown Copyright, 2013)

RAF Still Bombing ISIS

Operation SHADER Continues Despite Claims ISIS Defeated

Whilst other Royal Air Force aircraft flew armed reconnaissance missions to identify remaining concentrations of terrorist activity, RAF Reapers supported the Syrian Democratic Forces as they cleared Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL, aka Daesh) extremists from villages in eastern Syria, along the Euphrates valley. On Friday, 1 December, an RAF Reaper drone worked very closely with two flights of coalition aircraft, some fifteen miles north-west of Abu Kamal. The Reaper supported seven attacks by the coalition jets against several groups of terrorists, an armed truck and a Daesh-held building, and conducted three attacks with its own Hellfire missiles, which killed a number of extremists spotted both in defensive positions and in the open.

Another RAF Reaper provided similar assistance to the Syrian Democratic Forces on Sunday, 3 December. The Reaper provided surveillance support to a successful coalition air attack, then used a Hellfire missile to eliminate a group of terrorists who had taken up position in a building to the north-east of Abu Hammam.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Saturday, 9 December, that Iraqi forces had successfully restored control over the entire border with Syria. Coalition aircraft continue to be on hand to support the Iraqi security forces against any isolated pockets of Daesh extremists that might be found, and two RAF Tornado GR4s carried out such a mission on Saturday night. A coalition surveillance aircraft had identified a dispersed group of terrorists in a remote area of countryside some 40 miles north-west of Tikrit, and the Tornados were tasked with their destruction. Two Paveway IV guided bombs were used, along with a Brimstone missile which destroyed the terrorists’ nearby truck.

On Sunday 10 December, a Reaper provided further support to the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria. The RAF Reaper tracked various groups of terrorists which allowed them to be struck by a series of attacks by coalition fast jets, and conducted one attack using its own Hellfire weaponry.

UK contribution to the fight against Islamic State

Map of British Armed Forces deployed on Operation Shader

Map of British Armed Forces deployed on Operation Shader

Campaign against Daesh

Campaign map showing ISIS losses and gains since September 2014

Campaign map showing ISIS losses and gains since September 2014

Op SHADER in November

ISIS Command Post Destroyed Near Al Qaim

Wednesday, 1 November: Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew an armed reconnaissance patrol over western Iraq. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified a group of terrorists gathered at a command post some miles to the north-west of Al Qaim, close to the Syrian border. Our aircraft attacked using two Paveway IV guided bombs; one demolished the command post building, whilst the second weapon accounted for several terrorists outside, along with their vehicles.

Thursday, 2 November: Tornados conducted operations in the same area, and successfully bombed a building in which a Daesh observation post was stationed, attempting to direct mortar fire against Iraqi ground forces.

Tornados Destroy ISIS Mortar Team and Tunnel Entrance

Saturday, 4 November: two Tornados patrolled the other side of the border, in the far east of Syria. A mortar team was identified north-east of al Mayadin and successfully bombed. The Tornados then used a further Paveway IV to collapse the entrance to a terrorist tunnel nearby.

Sunday, 5 November: Two flights of Typhoon FGR4s, armed with Paveway IVs, flew similar missions over eastern Syria. One flight eliminated a mortar team near the border town of Abu Kamal, whilst the second pair of Typhoons successfully conducted four phased attacks against a tunnel complex near Al Mayadin.

Thursday, 9 November: Two Tornados used a Brimstone missile and two Paveway IVs to destroy a terrorist vehicle and stockpiled supplies in the deserts of western Iraq.

Saturday, 11 November: A pair of Typhoons patrolled over northern Iraq. Three improvised explosive devices had been identified, dug into embankments alongside roads around twenty miles north-west of Bayji, and the Typhoons were tasked with the safe destruction of these deadly booby-traps. Each was hit in turn with a Paveway IV.

Reaper Drone Fires GBU-12 Guided Bomb

Sunday, 12 November: A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft operating over eastern Syria similarly disposed of another booby-trap left behind by the terrorists – an armoured truck-bomb parked on the edge of a road some twenty miles south-east of Al Mayadin. This was struck by a GBU-12 guided bomb and destroyed.

RAF Supporting SDF Near Al Mayadin

Thursday, 16 November: The SDF have continued their operations against extremists south-east of Al Mayadin, in eastern Syria, and an RAF Reaper provided close air support to them. The first terrorist threat that the Reaper’s crew identified was a vehicle being driven at very high speed towards the SDF positions. Fearing this to be a probable truck-bomb, the Reaper’s crew tracked the lorry, ready to engage. However, no intervention was necessary, as the driver lost control of the vehicle, which crashed off the road and promptly exploded; it had indeed been a truck-bomb. The Reaper subsequently spotted a group of terrorists opening fire on the SDF; a GBU-12 guided bomb quickly eliminated this threat.

Saturday, 18 November: Tornados from RAF Akrotiri patrolled over north-west Iraq. Another coalition aircraft identified a Daesh truck, loaded with equipment, concealed under cover some 35 miles west of Sharaq. The Tornados were requested to conduct an attack with the very precise Brimstone missile, and did so successfully, destroying the vehicle.

Typhoons Take Out Truck-Bomb Factory in Iraq

Wednesday, 22 November: Intelligence identified a complex of buildings in northern Iraq, some 30 miles west of Sharqat, as a truck-bomb factory. Two Typhoons bombed the target site with six Paveway IV guided bombs on; two weapons demolished a large workshop, while single bombs dealt with the four other, smaller buildings.

Source: MOD

Image: Op SHADER, RAF Typhoon, 1(F) Squadron (Crown Copyright, 2013)