RAF Targeting Islamic State in Raqqa
After Mosul, RAF Concentrates on Raqqa
After the re-capture of Mosul, RAF Typhoons are continuing to take the fight to the Islamic State with strikes against targets in Raqqa, Syria. The MOD reported that RAF Typhoons deployed on Operation SHADER had destroyed Islamic State defensive positions, sniper teams and an ammunition factory in Raqqa as part of the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS. Note: in MOD releases Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is referred to as Daesh.
Operation SHADER: Latest Missions, July 31 to August 4
Royal Air Force Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper aircraft have continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions against Islamic State over Syria and Iraq, and have delivered a number of air strikes against terrorist targets in Raqqa. On Monday 31 July, two flights of Typhoons, based at RAF Akrotiri, delivered successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs against a defensive position from which Islamic State were firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and against two sniper teams.
Typhoons provided further close air support to the SDF. On Wednesday 2 August, SDF troops found themselves coming under sustained heavy machine-gun and sniper fire from a building in Raqqa, but were able to pinpoint the Islamic State position, allowing RAF aircraft to attack with a Paveway IV.
An improvised ammunition factory had been identified in a large single-storey building in Raqqa, and this was struck with two Paveway IVs from Typhoons on Friday 4 August. The Typhoons then conducted two further strikes with Paveways against sniper positions, while a second Typhoon flight dealt with a third sniper team.
Operation SHADER: Missions July 12 to July 30
Wednesday 12 July: A mixed Tornado and Typhoon provided support, and delivered successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs on three buildings from which terrorists had been attempting to prolong the fight. Over Raqqa, a second mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair flew overwatch as the Syrian Democratic Forces continued their advance through the city; RAF aircraft used Paveway IVs to engage three Daesh positions which opened fire on the SDF, and successfully silenced each threat in turn.
Thursday 13 July: Royal Air Force continued to support operations by the Iraqi security forces to eradicate any remaining Daesh fighters in Mosul. Two Tornados used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a building occupied by extremists on the west bank of the Tigris, in the Old City of Mosul.
Operational Focus Shifts from Mosul to Raqqa
Friday 14 July: With Mosul largely liberated, the major focus for RAF missions has been to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting in Raqqa. Two Typhoons used a Paveway IV to destroy the entrance to a tunnel dug beneath an area in the west of the city. The following day, Tornados and Typhoons utilised eleven Paveway IV bombs against mortar positions in Raqqa, whilst a pair of Tornados used a Brimstone missile against a sniper holding out in western Mosul.
Sunday 16 July: In the course of surveillance over Raqqa, a Reaper delivered a Hellfire missile attack which killed a small group of terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades, who had been firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces from a rooftop. Tornados and Typhoons were also very active over the city, and used a Brimstone missile to attack one terrorist firing point, and Paveway IVs to deal with three sniper teams and two other positions defended by Daesh extremists.
Wednesday 19 July: In northern Iraq, intelligence had identified a warehouse near Hawijah in which large quantities of homemade explosives were being stored by Daesh. A flight of RAF Tornados attacked the building with two Paveway IV guided bombs, and demolished it. A mixed pair of one Tornado and one Typhoon meanwhile provided close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to clear the terrorists from Raqqa. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified a Daesh defensive position, and our aircraft conducted a successful attack with a Brimstone missile. A terrorist command post was also identified within the city, and this was struck with two Paveway IVs.
Thursday 20 July: Operations over Raqqa continued, when a Typhoon mission assisted SDF engaged in combat with a group of extremists firing from a building; this was hit with a single Paveway IV which eliminated the threat to the SDF. In northern Iraq, coalition surveillance aircraft had located a number of terrorists on a wooded island in the Tigris, several miles south of Qayyarah, along with their transport – a boat and two vehicles – on the riverbanks. Two Tornados bombed the terrorists on the island with a pair of Paveway IVs, whilst a mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair destroyed the boat and vehicles with Brimstone missiles.
Friday 21 July: A pair of Tornados bombed the top of a grain silo in Raqqa, where a group of Daesh were stationed in a combined observation and sniper post. In western Iraq, a mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair used a Brimstone missile to eliminate an anti-aircraft machine gun that was concealed under cover, south-east of Rawah. Our aircraft then flew north-east to an area south of Qayyarah, where a coalition surveillance aircraft was keeping watch on a truck armed with a recoilless anti-tank gun. This was destroyed using a Brimstone.
Saturday 22 July: A Tornado mission used a single Paveway IV to destroy an engineering vehicle which terrorists had attempted to conceal some miles north of Tall Afar. On Sunday and Monday, the RAF operations focused on supporting the SDF in Raqqa.
Sunday 23 July: Three flights of Tornados and Typhoons conducted missions over the city, in which they delivered successful attacks on six Daesh positions, using Paveways IV bombs and Brimstone missiles.
Monday 24 July: Three more Paveway IVs were dropped, targeting a further three terrorist firing points.
Wednesday 26 July: A Royal Air Force Reaper flew an armed reconnaissance mission over eastern Syria. A group of armed terrorists were observed boarding a truck, and the Reaper’s crew tracked the vehicle as it headed west along a desert road, some 20 miles south-south-east of Hasakah, before engaging with a Hellfire missile once it was in an isolated location. The missile scored a direct hit which destroyed the truck.
Thursday 27 July: A mixed pair of a Tornado and a Typhoon, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew overwatch for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advancing inside Raqqa. The SDF came under mortar fire from a terrorist position, but a Paveway IV attack removed this threat. Another Paveway IV similarly dealt with a sniper position which was encountered by the SDF two hours later.
Friday 28 July: Another mixed Tornado and Typhoon pair assisted the SDF in Raqqa, and a Paveway IV was used to destroy a terrorist position.
Sunday 30 July: A further mixed pair of aircraft conducted successful Paveway strikes when the SDF came under fire from two snipers as they continued to clear areas of Raqqa from ISIS control.
Image: RAF 6 Squadron, RAF Losseimouth, pilot stands in front of a line of Typhoon aircraft in full flying attire (Crown Copyright, 2016).