RAF Pounds Last ISIS Hold-Out in Syria
Operational Uptick for RAF Aircraft as Support Continues for Abu Kamal Offensive
With the Syrian Democratic Forces continuing their offensive against the last major pocket of territory held by the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) in eastern Syria, centred on Hajin, Royal Air Force aircraft have provided further intensive support as part of Operation SHADER.
As in the previous month, a particular focus has been on Islamic State positions north-east of Abu Kamal. On Wednesday 3 October, an RAF Reaper detected an Islamic State mortar which was firing on SDF forces a short distance away. Two RAF Tornado GR4s were also on task in the area, and they struck the mortar position with a single Paveway IV guided bomb.
The following day, an SDF attack on an Islamic State position encountered a truck-bomb which was blocking their advance towards a terrorist strong-point in a nearby building. Tornados destroyed the truck-bomb using a Brimstone missile, then demolished the strong-point with a Paveway IV. Another building in the area was then identified as not only Islamic State-held, but a probable facility for further improvised truck-bombs. This target was also destroyed with a Paveway IV.
On Friday 5 October, Typhoons bombed an Islamic Statecommand post north-east of Abu Kamal using two Paveway IVs. Nearby, a flight of Tornados supported the SDF, who had come up against a compound held by the Islamic State. The SDF were very close to the target, but careful co-ordination allowed the Tornados to strike the two key buildings within the compound with Paveway IVs.
A Reaper provided further support in the same area on Saturday 6 October, and an attack delivered with a GBU-12 guided bomb successfully disrupted firing by the Islamic State on the SDF. Typhoons and Tornados were working further north, near Hajin, and used Paveway IVs and a Brimstone missile to deal with four Islamic State mortar positions and a weapons stockpile.
A Reaper’s crew successfully targeted Islamic State fighters who had positioned themselves beneath trees in the Hajin area on Sunday 7 October, hitting them with a Hellfire missile. Closer to Abu Kamal, Typhoons meanwhile destroyed a terrorist command post.
Despite bad weather, our aircraft were able to provide effective close air support to the SDF at both the northern and southern ends of the Hajin pocket on Thursday 11 October. North of Hajin, a flight of Typhoons and a flight of Tornados used Paveway IVs to destroy three Islamic State-held buildings which the SDF had encountered. In the south, close to the border with Iraq, a second pair of Tornados bombed two groups of terrorists spotted in in the open; one of the attacks also destroyed the extremists’ vehicle.
An Islamic State armed truck was spotted north-east of Abu Kamal on Friday 12 October, and was destroyed by a direct hit from a Paveway IV dropped by a Typhoon flight. A pair of Tornados conducted one attack through thick cloud, striking a tunnel – again to the north-east of Abu Kamal – then delivered a second successful attack with two Paveways against an Islamic State-held building near Hajin. On Saturday 13 October, Typhoons bombed an Islamic State strong-point north of Hajin, whilst Tornados struck a second such defensive position north-east of Abu Kamal. The Tornados also attacked a mortar position and an Islamic State command post in the same area, using Paveway IVs.
Our aircraft were able to attack successfully three known terrorist command and control locations on Sunday 14 October, all in and around Hajin. Typhoons dealt with two of the targets, including one where an Islamic State attack planning team were reported to be present at the time, whilst Tornados destroyed the third.
Summary of RAF Combat Missions 3-14 October 2018
Wednesday, 3 October – Tornados, working with a Reaper, destroyed an Islamic State mortar position in eastern Syria. Thursday 4 October – Tornados supported a Syrian Democratic Forces attack on an ISIS position, destroying a truck-bomb, a strong-point and an improvised explosive device facility.
Friday, 5 October – Typhoons bombed a terrorist command post in eastern Syria, whilst Tornados struck an Islamic State compound.
Saturday, 6 October – a Reaper disrupted Islamic State fighters firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces, while Typhoons and Tornados hit four terrorist mortar positions and a weapons stockpile. Sunday 7 October – a Reaper attacked a terrorist position hidden beneath trees, and Typhoons destroyed a command post in eastern Syria.
Thursday, 11 October – Tornados and Typhoons conducted five attacks on ISIS positions in eastern Syria.
Friday, 12 October – Tornados struck an Islamic State tunnel and a defended building in eastern Syria, whilst Typhoons destroyed an armed truck.
Saturday, 13 October – Typhoons bombed an Islamic State strong-point, and Tornados hit a mortar position, a command post and a second strong-point in eastern Syria.
Sunday, 14 October – Tornados and Typhoons bombed three ISIS command and control locations in eastern Syria.
Image: two Typhoon FGR4 aircraft flown by 29 (R) Squadron from RAF Coningsby (Crown Copyright, 2018).