Operation Shader is the operational code name given to the contribution of the United Kingdom in the ongoing military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The operation began in Iraq on 26 September 2014, following a formal request for assistance by the Iraqi government. Prior to this, the Royal Air Force had been engaged in a humanitarian relief effort over Mount Sinjar since 8 August 2014, which involved multiple aid airdrops by transport aircraft and the airlifting of displaced refugees. By 21 October 2014, the intervention had extended onto Syria with the Royal Air Force only mandated to conduct surveillance flights over the country. On 2 December 2015, the House of Commons approved British airstrikes against ISIL in Syria. The UK is one of 79 countries in the Combined Joint Task Force that is directly fighting ISIL in the Iraqi Civil War and the Syrian Civil War.
|Part of the Military intervention against ISIL|
in Iraq, and Syria and Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War
A Typhoon FGR4 flies over Iraq on 22 December 2015.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
2 servicemen killed (1 non-combat)|
2 servicemen wounded
8 volunteer SDF fighters killed
2 volunteer aid workers executed
1 journalist missing
4,013 killed |
302 injured (per UK)
The main bulk of the Operation includes airstrikes carried out by Reaper, Typhoon and Tornado aircraft armed with Paveway IV guided bombs, Brimstone missiles and Hellfire missiles, all of which are based at the Royal Air Force's overseas stations at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The Tornado was retired from the RAF in March 2019 and replaced with the new advanced F-35 aircraft which launched its first operational flight on 16 June 2019. From the start of the operation in September 2014 to January 2019, the Ministry of Defence claimed that 1,700 British airstrikes had killed or injured 4,315 enemy fighters in Iraq and Syria with 3,229 of those killed or injured being in Iraq whilst 1,086 were in Syria. They also claimed that only one civilian was killed during this same period. The operation also includes up to 1,400 British Army personnel providing vital skills training to the security forces in Iraq, Royal Navy destroyers providing protection to US aircraft carriers bombing ISIL in the Mediterranean Sea and the Royal Air Force conducting humanitarian relief and reconnaissance efforts and also providing £230 million worth of humanitarian aid.
The operation has resulted in a net cost of £1.75 billion. MQ-9 Reaper drones have proven by far the most precise and cost-effective asset. Per RAF official figures, Reapers were responsible for 32% of enemy fighter deaths, Typhoons 38%, and Tornados 30%, but the Reapers incurred net flight costs of only £62.923 million, as opposed to £996.96 million for the Typhoons and £430.815 million for the Tornados.
On 9 August 2014, following the genocidal persecution of minorities in Northern Iraq, the British government deployed the Royal Air Force to conduct humanitarian aid airdrops. The first airdrop was conducted on 9 August, with two Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft, flying from RAF Akrotiri, airdropping bundles of aid into Mount Sinjar. A second airdrop commenced on 12 August 2014 but had to be aborted due to a perceived risk of injury to civilians. The airdrops were able to resume within 24 hours and two large consignments of aid were airdropped over Mount Sinjar. During the same day, the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of Panavia Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft to help coordinate the airdrops using their LITENING III reconnaissance pods; they were not authorized to conduct any airstrikes prior to Parliamentary approval. Four Boeing Chinook transport helicopters were also deployed alongside them to participate in any required refugee rescue missions. On 13 August 2014, two Hercules aircraft dropped a third round of humanitarian aid into Mount Sinjar. This was followed by a fourth and final round on 14 August, bringing the total number of humanitarian aid airdrops conducted by the RAF to seven. The UK suspended its humanitarian aid airdrops on 14 August 2014, citing the improved humanitarian situation in Mount Sinjar.
On 16 August 2014, following the suspension of humanitarian aid airdrops, the Royal Air Force began shifting its focus from humanitarian relief to reconnaissance. The Tornado GR4s, which were previously used to help coordinate humanitarian aid airdrops, were re-tasked to gather vital intelligence for anti-ISIL forces. The Ministry of Defence also confirmed that a Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft had been deployed over the country on what was its first operational deployment since entering service. The aircraft was based at RAF Al Udeid in Qatar alongside U.S. Rivet Joint and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker tanker aircraft. In addition to Tornado and Rivet Joint, the Royal Air Force also deployed Reaper, Raytheon Sentinel, Beechcraft Shadow and Boeing Sentry AEW.1 aircraft to fly surveillance missions over Iraq and Syria.
Airstrikes in Iraq
On 13 September 2014, following the release of a video purporting to show the beheading of British citizen David Haines by Jihadi John of ISIL, David Cameron reacted by saying "We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes." Parliament was recalled on 26 September 2014 to debate the authorization of British airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. David Cameron told MPs that intervention, at the request of the Iraqi government, to combat a "brutal terrorist organisation", was "morally justified". He went on to state that ISIL was a direct threat to the United Kingdom and that British inaction would lead to "more killing" in Iraq. Following a seven-hour debate, Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of airstrikes, with 524 votes in favour and 43 against. The 43 ‘No’ votes came from 23 Labour MPs, six Conservative MPs, five Scottish National Party MPs, three Social Democratic and Labour Party MPs, two Plaid Cymru MPs, one Liberal Democrat MP, one Green Party MP, and one Respect Party MP. Following the vote, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC that the priority would be to stop the slaughter of civilians in Iraq, and that the UK and its allies would be guided by Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence in identifying targets.
The Royal Air Force began conducting armed sorties over Iraq immediately after the vote, using six Tornado GR4s stationed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The first airstrike took place on 30 September 2014, when a pair of Tornado GR4s attacked an ISIL heavy weapons position using a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb and an armed pickup truck using a Brimstone missile. On 3 October 2014, the six Tornado GR4s were bolstered by an additional two aircraft, bringing the total number of combat aircraft deployed on Operation Shader to eight. During the same day, it was reported that the Royal Navy had tasked Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender to escort the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) while she launched aircraft into Iraq and Syria.
On 16 October 2014, the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of an undisclosed number of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicles to assist with surveillance. However, Michael Fallon stated that the Reapers could also conduct airstrikes alongside the Tornado GR4s, if needed. The first airstrike conducted by a Reaper occurred on 10 November 2014. By 26 September 2015 – a full year after the operation first began – Tornado and Reaper aircraft had flown over 1,300 missions against ISIL and had conducted more than 300 airstrikes, killing more than 330 ISIL fighters.
According to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, the UK had conducted a "huge number of missions" over Iraq by 13 December 2014, second only to the United States and five times as many as France. By 5 February 2015, the UK had contributed 6% of all coalition airstrikes in Iraq – a contribution second only to the United States – which the Defence Select Committee described as "modest".
|List of Airstrikes in 2015|
|2 January 2015||A Tornado GR4 struck an ISIL armoured personnel carrier with a Brimstone missile near Al-Qa'im.
Later on in the same day, a coalition surveillance aircraft observed ISIL positions concealed within woods north-west of Ramadi. A Tornado mounted an attack on the positions using Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.
|4 January 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper, working in support of Iraqi ground forces, located an ISIL vehicle and engaged it with a Hellfire missile. Moments later, the same Reaper then identified a second ISIL position nearby and attacked it with another Hellfire missile.|
|5 January 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol operating over Al-Qa'im destroyed an ISIL excavator vehicle which was being used to construct fortified positions. A Brimstone missile was used to conduct the attack. Meanwhile, an MQ-9 Reaper, scouting ahead of Iraqi troops, spotted an armoured vehicle being moved by ISIL on a heavy equipment transporter. The Reaper attacked and destroyed the armoured vehicle and heavy equipment transporter with two Hellfire missiles, and then used a third missile to attack an ISIL position nearby.|
|8 January 2015||In Anbar province, western Iraq, an MQ-9 Reaper provided targeting assistance to coalition aircraft which were supporting Iraqi ground forces. The Reaper then conducted its own airstrike, using a Hellfire missile.|
|9 January 2015||Two Tornado GR4's on an armed reconnaissance patrol were summoned to assist Peshmerga forces which were under attack from ISIL terrorists. The Tornado's delivered four precision strikes using Paveway IV laser-guided bombs to disrupt the attack.|
|13 January 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper provided air support to Peshmerga forces in the northern Iraq. An ISIL vehicle was identified reopening a terrorist communications route previously damaged by an attack. The Reaper attacked and destroyed the vehicle using Hellfire missiles.|
|16 January 2015||A patrol of Tornado GR4's, operating near Bayji in support of Iraqi ground forces, attacked three ISIL positions with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. A fourth position was attacked nearby shortly afterwards.
During the evening, an MQ-9 Reaper, operating elsewhere in Iraq, was able to identify a group of ISIL terrorists who had just attacked an Iraqi unit. The Reaper drone attacked the terrorists with two Hellfire missiles.
|18 January 2015||Several airstrikes took place during the day. In the afternoon, an MQ-9 Reaper destroyed a heavy machine gun position which was threatening Iraqi soldiers nearby. During the night, a further three attacks were conducted against a large group of ISIL terrorists which were beginning an attack on Iraqi ground forces.|
|19 January 2015||In the early hours of the morning, a patrol of Tornado GR4's were involved in an armed reconnaissance patrol over western Iraq, close to the Syrian border. The Tornado's identified an ISIL armoured personnel carrier and destroyed it using a Brimstone missile. Continuing their patrol to the north east, the Tornado's located another group of ISIL vehicles and attacked them with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.|
|20 January 2015||RAF aircraft provided assistance to a Kurdish offensive operation. An MQ-9 Reaper conducted a successful attack on a group of ISIL terrorists using a Hellfire missile.|
|21 January 2015||Early in the day, a pair of Tornado GR4's flew in support of Kurdish troops. A Brimstone missile was used to attack a heavily armed ISIL truck, and a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb was used to target an ISIL observation post. In the evening, an MQ-9 Reaper provided further surveillance to Peshmerga forces, and in a series of engagements, used Hellfire missiles to attack a number of ISIL vehicles and a fighting position.|
|22 January 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper, patrolling over northern Iraq, assisted Peshmerga forces who were under fire from a group of ISIL terrorists with a heavily armed pick-up truck. The Reaper attacked and destroyed the pick-up truck with by a Hellfire missile.|
|23 January 2015||In the morning, an MQ-9 Reaper flew in support the Iraqi army in the west of the country and observed ISIL fighters loading rockets into a truck. The vehicle was kept under close observation and then was successfully attacked with a Hellfire missile. A further attack was then conducted as the terrorists attempted to salvage equipment from the damaged truck.|
|25 January 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper set out on a patrol over northern Iraq, providing top cover to Peshmerga forces as they consolidated their latest successful offensive against ISIL. The Reaper was able to identify an ISIL armoured personnel carrier and attacked it using a Hellfire missile. A further two ISIL positions were identified nearby and attacked with Hellfire missiles.|
|28 January 2015||A Sentry AEW1 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft arrived at RAF Akrotiri to support Operation Shader.|
|29 January 2015||RAF Tornado GR4's conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over north-west Iraq, where Peshmerga forces have achieved several successful offensives against ISIL. Near Baa’j, the Tornado's investigated a reported ISIL checkpoint, which was being used to restrict the movement of civilians. The checkpoint, which included a guard room and an equipment storage area, was destroyed using several Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.
Nearby, the Tornado patrol then located an ISIL armoured personnel carrier and successfully destroyed it using a Brimstone missile.
|30 January 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper operating in support of Iraqi ground forces conducted four airstrikes with Hellfire missiles on ISIL terrorists in the west of Iraq.|
|31 January 2015||In the early hours of the morning, a Tornado GR4 patrol located a group of armoured personnel carriers being used by ISIL and attacked them with a combination of Brimstone missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. Hours later, an MQ-9 Reaper was on patrol in western Iraq, and used Hellfire missiles to engage a group of ISIL terrorists and their truck.|
|2 February 2015||Early in the day, a Tornado GR4 patrol provided close air support to Iraqi army operations approximately 70 kilometres north west of Baghdad, and dropped two Paveway IV laser-guided bombs on ISIL positions engaged in a firefight with Iraqi troops.|
|4 February 2015||A pair of Tornado GR4's conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over Bayji in support of Iraqi ground forces. Two ISIL armoured vehicles were identified in a building and were attacked with two Paveway IV laser-guided bombs, scoring two direct hits.|
|5 February 2015||Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless (D33) began providing escort to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) as she launched airstrikes into Iraq and Syria.|
|6 February 2015||An RAF Tornado GR4 patrol worked closely with a coalition surveillance platform to provide overwatch for Peshmerga forces, who were engaged in close combat with ISIL terrorists near Mosul. When an ISIL mortar position opened fire on the Pehsmerga, the Tornados were able to respond with a Brimstone missile which scored a direct hit.|
|7 February 2015||Early in the morning, a pair of Tornado GR4's patrolled western Iraq, near Al Qa'im, close to the Syrian border. Two heavily armed ISIL trucks were identified and attacked with Brimstone missiles. The Tornados also located an ISIL armoured personnel carrier and conducted a further Brimstone attack.|
|9 February 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper over western Iraq spotted a checkpoint manned by ISIL, denying the local population any freedom of movement. Having checked the area for any risk to civilians, the Reaper's crew attacked the checkpoint with a Hellfire missile.|
|13 February 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper provided close air support to an Iraqi unit in combat with ISIL terrorists in Diyala Governorate. The Reaper spotted a machine-gun team firing on the Iraqi troops, and conducted a successful attack with a Hellfire missile. A second machine gun then opened fire on the Iraqis, and the Reaper conducted a further strike with another Hellfire.|
|18 February 2015||Two Tornado GR4's were tasked to investigate suspected ISIL engineering work near an oil installation in Western Iraq. The Tornados located a bulldozer being used by ISIL and destroyed it with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb. An armed pick-up truck was also identified and struck with a Paveway. The Tornados were as usual supported by a Voyager aerial refueling aircraft, whilst a Sentry surveillance and control aircraft helped coordinate the international coalition's air campaign to support the Iraqi forces.|
|19 February 2015||Two Tornado GR4's conducted provided close air support to the Peshmerga forces in Northern Iraq. The Peshmerga reported coming under rocket fire, and after an intensive search, the Tornados were able to locate an ISIL truck-mounted rocket launcher, and attacked it, scoring a direct hit with a Brimstone missile.|
|20 February 2015||Two Tornado GR4's identified an ISIL position in northwestern Iraq, on the banks of the River Tigris, and attacked it with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.|
|23 February 2015||A Tornado patrol operating in the far west of Iraq identified an ISIL armed vehicle and attacked it with a Brimstone missile.
Royal Navy ships continued to support coalition navies in their operations against ISIL. Type 23 frigate HMS Kent joined the French Navy's Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group, whilst Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless continued to provide escort to USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).
|24 February 2015||Tornado GR4's provided close air support to Iraqi ground forces engaged in close combat with ISIL in Anbar Governorate. A large building, being used as a stronghold by ISIL, was identified and a precision attack was conducted with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb which demolished the building without endangering friendly forces.|
|25 February 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper used Hellfire missiles to engage two ISIL positions which were firing on Iraqi soldiers in Anbar Governorate.|
|26 February 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper provided close air support to Iraqi soldiers engaged in close combat with ISIL in the west of the country. The Reaper used Hellfire missiles to attack a group of terrorists and a heavy machine-gun position. The aircraft then supported coalition fast jets striking additional terrorist positions nearby. A second Reaper also ensured that Iraqi soldiers received air support into the night, identifying two more ISIL positions, which were struck by coalition jets. The Reaper then spotted another terrorist position, firing on the Iraqi troops, and intervened with a successful Hellfire strike.|
|27 February 2015||In the early hours of the morning, an RAF Tornado GR4 patrol conducted reconnaissance to the north-west of Haditha. An ISIL armoured personnel carrier was located, and destroyed with a Brimstone missile. Later on Friday, a Reaper was called in by Iraqi forces to deal with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The vehicle was successfully destroyed with Hellfire.|
|1 March 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper tracked an ISIL truck loaded with weapons and ammunition, and destroyed it with a Hellfire missile.|
|2 March 2015||A pair of Tornado GR4's led coalition aircraft in an attack on a series of ISIL fortified positions south of Kirkuk. These bunkers posed a potential threat to offensive operations by Peshmerga forces, who have also benefited from equipment and extensive training provided by British and coalition military instructors.
Meanwhile, in western Iraq, RAF Reapers provided close air support to an Iraqi Army offensive in Anbar Governorate. The retreating ISIL terrorists sought to hold up the Iraqi advance with numerous improvised explosive devices. One vehicle-borne bomb posed a particular obstacle to the Iraqi ground forces, so a Reaper destroyed the vehicle with a Hellfire missile. Later that night, another Reaper assisted Iraqi troops who had come under fire from the terrorists, carrying out an attack with a Hellfire missile on the ISIL position.
|4 March 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper, which was providing air support to Iraqi army units, spotted the muzzle flash of a heavy calibre weapon. Close investigation allowed the Reaper's crew to locate an ISIL towed artillery piece, which was then destroyed with a Hellfire missile.|
|5 March 2015||MQ-9 Reapers continued to provide close air support to Iraqi ground forces in the west of the country. An ISIL vehicle was destroyed during the morning, and then in the evening a series of Hellfire engagements took place. An ISIL vehicle check-point was neutralised, an attempt by terrorists to launch an attack on Iraqi troops was disrupted by three successful missile strikes, and finally an armed pick-up truck was destroyed late that night.|
|8 March 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper armed reconnaissance patrol provided surveillance for a coalition attack on an armed terrorist truck, then conducted an Hellfire attack on a second vehicle.|
|9 March 2015||A pair of Tornado GR4's conducted close air support for Peshmerga forces on the offensive south of Kirkuk. When the Peshmerga came under fire from ISIL terrorists the Tornados were able to conduct successful strikes with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.|
|11 March 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol located a camouflaged 130 mm heavy artillery piece near Al Qaim in western Iraq, and destroyed it with Brimstone missiles.
Tornado GR4's, along with Sentry surveillance and Voyager tanker aircraft, provided close air support to Peshmerga forces engaged in eliminating ISIL strongholds in and around the city of Sinjar. An ISIL position was identified which was firing on an advancing Kurdish unit. Working closely with Peshmerga forces, the Tornado GR4's conducted a precision attack with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb, which successfully destroyed the position. A little later, a second stronghold was identified – a base being used by a terrorist heavy machine-gun team – this too was successfully attacked with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.
Later that same day, an RAF Reaper provided similar support to Iraqi military units in Anbar Governorate. The Reaper's crew tracked ISIL vehicles moving at speed on the open road and destroyed two with Hellfire missiles. The Reaper then worked closely to designate targets and provide surveillance support for a further five strikes by other coalition aircraft on enemy positions in the area.
|13 March 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol identified an armed ISIL truck, which had been firing on Peshmerga forces, and destroyed it with a Brimstone missile. The Tornados then used Paveway IV laser-guided bombs in successful attacks on two buildings in which terrorists had taken up position.|
|14 March 2015||Tornado GR4's flew in support of the Iraqi army to the north-west of Haditha. An ISIL armoured personnel carrier and another armed terrorist vehicle were identified, and both were struck by Brimstone missiles.|
|15 March 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol attacked ISIL defences around Mosul with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles. A further Tornado GR4 mission in the early hours of the day conducted a Brimstone attack on a vehicle being used to create defences at Anah, near the Haditha Lake.|
|17 March 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol conducted extensive reconnaissance before investigating reports of engineering equipment being used by ISIL to build defensive positions. Two excavators were located and destroyed with a Brimstone missile and a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.|
|19 March 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol came to the assistance of Peshmerga forces advancing north-east of Mosul. Working closely with the Kurdish forces, despite difficult weather, the Tornado aircraft were able to conduct precision attacks with two Paveway IV laser-bombs against an ISIL heavy machine gun and weapon positions.|
|23 March 2015||The Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of two Sentinel R1 ISTAR aircraft to assist with surveillance.|
|24 March 2015||An RAF Reaper drone provided support to Iraqi units operating in the western province of Anbar. Hellfire missiles were used against an ISIL vehicle and two positions.|
|26 March 2015||Tornado GR4's, supported by a Voyager tanker, used Paveway IV laser-guided bombs to attack three ISIL strongholds in Tikrit.|
|27 March 2015||Tornado GR4's from RAF Akrotiri conducted an armed reconnaissance mission in the Mosul area, in the course of which they identified an excavator being used by ISIL to construct defensive positions against continuing Iraqi and Kurdish offensives to liberate the local population from oppression by the terrorists. A Brimstone missile made a direct hit on the vehicle, destroying it.|
|29 March 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol provided close air support to Iraqi forces near Tikrit. A Brimstone missile was used to destroy an ISIL armoured personnel carrier positioned under a road bridge.|
|31 March 2015||RAF Reaper drones have provided overwatch to Iraqi forces. One Reaper conducted a Hellfire missile strike on a terrorist position that was directing small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire onto an advancing Iraqi army unit.|
|2 April 2015||Two Tornado GR4's flew an armed reconnaissance patrol and provided support to Peshmerga forces near Sinjar, whose advance had brought them into contact with an ISIL heavy machine-gun position in a building. The Tornado GR4's were able to demolish the position with a pair of Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.|
|3 April 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol conducted an intensive series of successful strikes to help disrupt an attempted ISIL attack south-east of Mosul. The first target was a vehicle which was hit by a Brimstone missile. Two more Brimstone missiles and four Paveway IV laser-guided bombs were used against an armed pick-up truck and five terrorist positions.|
|5 April 2015||Tornado GR4's provided air support to Iraqi military units near Ramadi which had come under fire from ISIL. A successful attack was conducted on the building using a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.|
|10 April 2015||Two Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over Mosul and destroyed an ISIL vehicle with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.|
|11 April 2015||A Tornado GR4 mission provided support for Iraqi troops in Anbar Governorate and identified a factory being used by ISIL to manufacture vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. The GR4s conducted attacks on four targets within the factory, using Paveway IVs.|
|13 April 2015||GR4s once again provide close air support for Iraqi ground forces, on this occasion in and around Bayji. Patrolling ahead of the Iraqi troops, RAF aircraft successfully attacked four buildings within an ISIL military compound with Paveway IVs. Later, an armed reconnaissance patrol of Tornado GR4s provided air support to an Iraqi military operation, clearing terrorists from positions to the north of Ramadi. Another coalition aircraft successfully pinpointed a building from which terrorists were firing on the advancing Iraqi troops, and the RAF aircraft conducted a successful attack with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.|
|14 April 2015||GR4s provided support to Iraqi operations during which they engaged an ISIL armoured vehicle with a Brimstone missile.|
|15 April 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol armed with Paveway IVs assisted Iraqi troops near Bayji by successfully identifying and attacking a sheltered ISIL mortar position.The GR4s then conducted a further successful strike on a building from which terrorists were firing on the Iraqi troops. Later that day, an RAF Reaper, supporting Iraqi units in Anbar Governorate, was called upon by another coalition aircraft to attack an ISIL vehicle which was tearing up a roadway in an attempt to block the Iraqi advance; a Hellfire missile destroyed the vehicle.|
|16 April 2015||A Reaper provided similar overwatch in the area and used its Hellfires to attack an ISIL position and an armed vehicle.|
|17 April 2015||A Reaper strike removed the threat posed by a large vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED).|
|19 April 2015||A Reaper found terrorists attempting to position an IED, but were hit by a Hellfire missile which detonated the bomb. The same aircraft then engaged an ISIL vehicle carrying heavy weaponry.|
|20 April 2015||A Reaper operating ahead of an Iraqi advance in Anbar Governorate identified an ambush prepared by ISIL. These were hit by Hellfire missiles. Later in the morning a Reaper identified a bulldozer used by ISIL terrorists to construct a roadblock ahead of an Iraqi army advance, and destroyed it with a Hellfire missile.|
|21 April 2015||A Reaper spotted terrorists manning a check-point, intended to stop free movement by the civilian population; a successful Hellfire attack was conducted on the position.|
|22 April 2015||A Reaper provided surveillance support to two successful coalition fast jet attacks on ISIL positions, then, in the early hours of Thursday morning, carried out its own attack with a Hellfire missile on a terrorist team caught positioning an improvised explosive device (IED).|
|24 April 2015||Tornado GR4's from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager tanker aircraft, have also continued to fly combat missions. Overnight on Friday and Saturday, a GR4 patrol provided close air support to an Iraqi unit near Ramadi, where government forces have enjoyed a number of recent successes in driving out the terrorists. The Iraqi troops reported coming under fire from snipers located in a building; despite the close proximity of the Iraqi troops, the Tornado GR4's were able to mount a precise attack with a Paveway IV guided bomb that destroyed the enemy position without risk to the friendly forces. Shortly afterwards, more terrorists were identified regrouping in a neighbouring building, and this too was hit by a Paveway bomb.|
|27 April 2015||RAF aircraft struck seven targets, including headquarters and weapon storage buildings. Later that night, a second RAF Tornado patrol provided further support to the Kurdish forces and destroyed a terrorist position with a Paveway.|
|28 April 2015||An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft flew overwatch for Iraqi troops in Anbar Governorate, in western Iraq. Using the aircraft's advanced surveillance equipment, the crew identified a terrorist team burying an explosive booby-trap; a Hellfire missile from the Reaper scored a direct hit. The Reaper then tracked the movement of an ISIL heavy machine-gun team to an ISIL compound, allowing a successful air strike to be conducted by a coalition fast jet. Another Reaper took over the support mission in the same area the following day, and assisted the Iraqi troops by destroying an anti-tank gun.|
|3 May 2015||Two Tornado GR4's provided direct support to Iraqi troops near Bayji and conducted a successful attack with a Paveway precision guided bomb on a concealed ISIL position. Shortly afterwards, a Reaper flying overwatch for an Iraqi unit in Anbar Governorate was able to identify two engineering vehicles which ISIL were using to construct defensive positions – both vehicles were destroyed with Hellfire missiles.|
|4 May 2015||Tornado GR4's also assisted Iraqi troops on the evening of Monday; whilst trying to evacuate wounded comrades, the soldiers came under heavy fire from terrorists positioned in two buildings. Despite the proximity of the friendly forces, careful planning and the accuracy of the Paveway system allowed the GR4s to destroy both terrorist positions and remove the threat to the troops on the ground.|
|6 May 2015||Tornado GR4's provided support to the Kurdish peshmerga near Mosul, and conducted air strikes with Paveways on ISIL sniper and heavy machine-gun positions. An RAF Reaper flew overwatch for advancing Iraqi troops in Anbar Governorate. The Reaper's crew used the aircraft's advanced surveillance systems to identify a heavy machine-gun position, which was successfully attacked with a Hellfire missile. Two further ISIL positions were also struck shortly afterwards.|
|7 May 2015||Tornado GR4's supporting Kurdish forces north of Mosul destroyed a terrorist heavy machine-gun position, which had opened fire on the peshmerga.|
|13 May 2015||MQ-9 Reapers conducted further successful strikes attacking a large vehicle. Another Reaper was operating over northern Iraq the same day, and used Hellfires to strike ISIL fighters and an engineering vehicle.|
|14 May 2015||Tornado GR4's on a reconnaissance mission were tasked to attack a building near Bayjii where coalition surveillance had confirmed terrorists were assembling; a Paveway IV guided bomb scored a direct hit on the target.|
|15 May 2015||When ISIL launched their attack on Friday on government buildings in Ramadi, an RAF Reaper was among the coalition aircraft that came to the assistance of the Iraqi security forces, and it was able to destroy a terrorist position with a Hellfire missile. At the same time, Tornado GR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, used a Paveway precision guided bomb to demolish an ISIL held building near Bayji.|
|17 May 2015||GR4s again supported Iraqi army operations in the Bayji area, and safely destroyed with a Brimstone missile a car bomb which the terrorists had positioned ahead of the advancing Iraqi troops. A Reaper continued to support the Iraqi forces in Anbar Governorate, including providing surveillance assistance to a successful coalition air strike in Ramadi.|
|18 May 2015||A Reaper assisted 2 coalition air strikes on terrorist positions, including a heavy machine-gun team, then conducted a third strike itself with a Hellfire.|
|19 May 2015||A Reaper and 2 Tornado GR4s patrolled northern Iraq, where the peshmerga were conducting offensive operations against ISIL terrorists. The Reaper attacked a bunker with a Hellfire missile, then helped direct three attacks by the Tornado GR4s against an artillery position and two other bunkers. The Tornados then destroyed a heavy machine-gun position in a building with a Paveway attack. The Reaper conducted a further attack, destroying a heavily armed vehicle moving at high speed. Another RAF Reaper used a Hellfire to destroy a mortar which was firing on Iraqi troops in Anbar Governorate.|
|20 May 2015||Tornados struck a weapons store with Paveways and operations in northern Iraq continued the next day with the Tornados destroying an ISIL heavy weapons position in a building. They then attacked a further weapons cache in a tunnel and in the course of this strike, a camouflaged position nearby was spotted by the aircrew, confirmed as hostile, and was also bombed.|
|22 May 2015||In the west of the country, Reapers continued to provide overwatch to the Iraqi forces in Anbar Governorate. On Friday 22 May, a Reaper successfully engaged terrorists burying improvised explosive devices next to a road. The aircraft then supported a strike mounted by coalition fast jets on an ISIL-held building.|
|24 May 2015||A Reaper in Anbar Governorate engaged an ISIL armoured vehicle which was in close combat with Iraqi forces with a Hellfire and then provided surveillance support to four successful strikes by coalition aircraft on ISIL buildings and a bulldozer which had been packed with explosives for an attack on the Iraqi troops.|
|27 May 2015||Reapers tracked a terrorist team stockpiling explosives in the desert, successfully engaging the terrorists and destroying the explosives. Tornados from RAF Akrotiri flew in support of Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq, using a Brimstone missile to destroy a concealed armed truck. The peshmerga later came under fire from two ISIL heavy machine-guns; the Tornados attacked with a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs, hitting both targets.|
|31 May 2015||A Reaper destroyed heavy equipment used by ISIL to maintain a supply route across a bridge over the Euphrates.2 Tornados later assisted peshmerga operations near Sinjar, using Paveway bombs to destroy two buildings from which a terrorist heavy machine-gun position and vehicle-mounted mortar team were operating.|
|3 June 2015||A Tornado patrol in northern Iraq destroyed an ISIL heavy machine-gun position.|
|4 June 2015||A Tornado mission used Paveway bombs to destroy a building from which terrorists were firing on advancing peshmerga soldiers, and then an ISIL supply warehouse north of Mosul. In western Iraq, a Reaper destroyed a vehicle and trailer transporting ammunition.|
|5 June 2015||In the early hours of the morning, Tornados provided further support to the Iraqi army in Anbar Governorate, attacking an ISIL weapons cache and a mortar position. Later, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided overwatch to Iraqi troops in Anbar Governorate. Patrolling over a known ISIL compound, the Reaper's operators observed a group of terrorists unloading supplies from a vehicle, and conducted a successful attack with a GBU-12 guided bomb.|
|7 June 2015||A Reaper tracked an ISIL truck moving at high speed close to the border with Syria and destroyed it with a Hellfire missile. That night, an RAF Tornado GR4 patrol provided support to both the Kurdish peshmerga in north of the country, and to the Iraqi army further south. Near Sinjar, peshmerga came into contact with an ISIL team armed with rocket-propelled grenades, who were fortified inside a building. The Tornados successfully destroyed the building with a Paveway IV guided bomb. The two Tornados then flew south to the area around Bayji, where a group of terrorists had been observed gathering in a large building, preparing an attack on an Iraqi army unit. A strike with two Paveways demolished the building.|
|10 June 2015||An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolling near Iraq's border with Syria destroyed an ISIL vehicle.|
|11 June 2015||Two Tornado GR4s provided close air support to advancing peshmerga near Sinjar who had come under fire from an ISIL sniper team located in an isolated building; this was demolished by a direct hit from a Paveway. The GR4s then flew south to assist the Iraqi army near Ar Rutbah, where they used a Brimstone missile to destroy a terrorist armoured personnel carrier.|
|12 June 2015||An offensive, which RAF and other coalition aircraft supported, succeeded in driving back the terrorists to the west of Kirkuk. In this area are a number of villages from which ISIL have driven out the civilian population and the deserted villages have then been transformed into large fortified strongholds and terrorist training camps. Several of these have already been targeted by coalition aircraft and overrun by the peshmerga. A large coordinated operation focused on a location behind the current front line, west of Kirkuk and north of Bayji. Extensive reconnaissance allowed a large number of terrorist targets to be identified inside the perimeter of the complex. Careful planning allowed a number of coalition aircraft, including RAF Tornado GR4s which dropped ten Paveway IV precision guided bombs, to conduct a coordinated air strike on these key targets and disrupt ISIL efforts to recover from the successful peshmerga offensives to the north, and Iraqi army operations around Bayji and Tikrit to the south.|
|14 June 2015||A pair of Tornado GR4s conducted a series of three successful attacks with Paveways on a terrorist team armed with rocket-propelled grenades and also two ISIL heavy machine-gun positions, all of which were engaged in combat with the Kurdish forces.|
|16 June 2015||An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducted an armed reconnaissance mission over western Iraq. Whilst investigating the suspected location of a hidden ISIL weapons cache, a number of terrorists were identified loading a vehicle with arms and supplies. The Reaper's crew confirmed there were no civilians at risk in the area, and destroyed the vehicle with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper also provided surveillance support to a further attack on a nearby terrorist position by a coalition fast jet.|
|17 June 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri flew to north-western Iraq to provide close air support for peshmerga operations in the area. The GR4s took over from another coalition flight, which had already conducted successful air strikes in the area, and our aircraft used Paveway IV guided bombs to hit three more terrorist positions which had opened fire on the Kurdish forces, including two ISIL heavy machine-gun teams.|
|21 June 2015||Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager tanker, flew from RAF Akrotiri to provide close air support to the Kurdish peshmerga. In a wide-ranging patrol across northern Iraq, the GR4s responded to requests for assistance from the peshmerga, as ISIL terrorist positions were encountered. In the north-west, near Tal Afar, the RAF aircraft conducted a successful attack with a Paveway IV guided bomb on a mortar position that had opened fire on the Kurdish troops. They then destroyed a second mortar team, operating from a building near Kisik, before flying east to the area of Mosul, where a heavy machine-gun position had been located, firing from a building. This was destroyed by another highly accurate Paveway attack. In the west of the country, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided overwatch for Iraqi army operations in Anbar Governorate. In the course of this patrol, the Reaper's crew identified a vehicle in use by the ISIL terrorists and struck it with a Hellfire missile.|
|23 June 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager tanker aircraft, provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga fighting the terrorists in northern Iraq. Near Kisik, a Kurdish unit reported that it was engaged in a firefight with a terrorist group, who were directing machine-gun and mortar fire at them from a fortified building. The RAF GR4s struck the building with a direct hit from a Paveway IV guided bomb, and the peshmerga subsequently reported that the ISIL group had been destroyed.|
|26 June 2015||A Reaper on patrol over western Iraq located an engineering vehicle, used by ISIL to construct defences in the area. Despite the efforts to conceal the vehicle, the Reaper was able to destroy the target with a Hellfire missile.|
|28 June 2015||Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIL in the area of Bayji also received air support from RAF. Tornado GR4s, working closely with another coalition surveillance aircraft, were able to track a group of terrorists in a vehicle, and hit them with a Paveway IV bomb.|
|29 June 2015||A Reaper tracked another engineering vehicle in western Iraq, which was being used to open up a supply route for the terrorists. Although the ISIL operators attempted to hide their vehicle, the Reaper's crew were able to manoeuvre their aircraft into a good position for an accurate attack which destroyed the bulldozer.|
|1 July 2015||A Reaper patrolled western Iraq in support of the Iraqi army units operating in the area. Another coalition air patrol had identified an engineering vehicle which the ISIL terrorists had been using to construct defensive positions, and the Reaper was able to conduct a successful attack on the vehicle with a Hellfire missile. Later that day, Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, assisted by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, provided close air support to the Iraqi army south-east of Fallujah. A coalition surveillance platform located an ISIL mortar team, allowing the GR4s to carry out a successful attack with a Brimstone missile. The GR4s also then dropped Paveway IV guided bombs on a tunnel network in the same area.|
|2 July 2015||A Reaper destroyed an engineering vehicle in western Iraq, and a GR4 patrol continued to support the Iraqi forces near Fallujah, using Paveways to attack a network of fighting positions ahead of an Iraqi advance.|
|5 July 2015||Tornado GR4s operating in northern Iraq provided support to advancing Kurdish peshmerga when they encountered a series of terrorist heavy machine-gun positions. Two were struck by Brimstone missiles and the third with a Paveway IV.|
|6 July 2015||A Reaper tracked an ISIL armoured personnel carrier which was used in combat against Iraqi troops. Although the terrorists attempted to conceal their vehicle in a palm grove, this proved no defence against the Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles. The Reaper subsequently destroyed an armoured pick-up truck, which had been converted to a large car bomb and positioned to hamper Iraqi movements.|
|9 July 2015||A Reaper observed ISIL terrorists converting an armoured pick-up truck – most likely for use as a car-bomb. Despite the target being parked in a roofed bay, the Reaper's crew was able to score a direct hit with a Hellfire missile which destroyed the vehicle. Later, they kept close watch on a group of terrorists loading a pick-up truck with ammunition and the Reaper conducted an attack with a Hellfire. The resulting explosion destroyed the ammunition truck and another ISIL vehicle close by.|
|10 July 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager tanker, patrolled near Habbaniyah in western Iraq to support Iraqi army units operating in the area. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified an ISIL mortar position which had opened fire on the Iraqi troops, and was able to guide a successful attack by the GR4s using a Brimstone missile. Later that night, another GR4 patrol headed to northern Iraq to support Kurdish peshmerga. UK aircraft were directed to attack a building to which a group of terrorists had retreated after an engagement with the peshmerga; a Paveway IV bomb demolished the target. Another Kurdish unit then reported coming under heavy machine-gun fire; the GR4s conducted a successful Paveway attack which destroyed the building from which the terrorist machine-gun team was firing.|
|12 July 2015||A further GR4 mission in northern Iraq also provided assistance to the peshmerga when they again encountered an ISIL machine-gun position. Although the Kurdish forces were in close proximity to the target, careful planning and coordination by the RAF crews allowed a precision attack to be delivered with a Paveway IV which eliminated the threat to the peshmerga.|
|14 July 2015||GR4s flying close air support for Iraqi soldiers engaged in close combat with a group of ISIL fighters near Fallujah. A terrorist mortar position was identified hidden in a line of trees and, despite the friendly ground forces being close to the target, our aircraft were able to conduct a successful attack with a Paveway guided bomb without risk to the Iraqi troops.|
|16 July 2015||2 GR4s provided close air support to the peshmerga in northern Iraq near Mosul and used a Paveway to destroy another mortar position which had previously fired on the Kurdish troops. The GR4s then flew west to Tal Afar, where an ISIL vehicle armed with a heavy machine-gun concealed under a building was successfully destroyed by a Paveway.|
|19 July 2015||GR4s again patrolled near Tal Afar during which an ISIL mortar team opened fire on peshmerga positions. The mortar was located and attacked with a Paveway IV.|
|20 July 2015||An RAF Reaper flew overwatch for security forces in western Iraq, and was able to track a pick-up truck carrying a group of terrorists. The vehicle was destroyed by a hit from a Hellfire missile.|
|21 July 2015||A Reaper patrolling in the west of the country observed a group of terrorists attempting to plant improvised explosive devices to hold up Iraqi advances; a hit from a Hellfire missile put an end to their activities. A second Reaper was meanwhile operating further north, and it used one of its Hellfires in a highly accurate attack that destroyed an ISIL supply truck despite it being parked under a concrete roofed vehicle bay.|
|23 July 2015||Two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker, conducted two air strikes on Thursday, when they flew a close air support mission to assist the Kurdish peshmerga near Sinjar. The first attack was on a building from which a sniper was firing at the peshmerga; the precision of the Paveway IV guided bomb and careful planning by the RAF aircrew allowed a successful attack without danger to the friendly forces. Shortly afterwards, a second target was identified – a terrorist mortar position – this was also destroyed with a Paveway. Further south that day, a Reaper destroyed another ISIL supply vehicle with a Hellfire missile, and also provided surveillance support for a strike on a terrorist position by other coalition aircraft. In western Iraq, meanwhile, a Reaper identified a building from which an ISIL group were firing on Iraqi soldiers; this allowed a coalition jet to conduct a successful attack. The Reaper then mounted its own Hellfire attack to destroy a nearby heavy machine-gun position.|
|24 July 2015||A Reaper was again patrolling over western Iraq, providing overwatch for Iraqi troops. The aircraft's crew spotted an anti-aircraft gun being used by ISIL to fire on the Iraqi forces, and promptly destroyed the gun with a Hellfire. A second Hellfire accounted for a machine-gun position. The Reaper also helped coordinate a series of successful air strikes by several coalition jets, which destroyed two terrorist positions as well as a pair of armoured personnel carriers, one of which appeared to have been converted into a large car-bomb.|
|28 July 2015||A Reaper, once more supporting Iraqi forces in the western province of Anbar, spotted an ISIL armoured vehicle; it was destroyed by a direct hit from a Hellfire. The following day, Tornado GR4s patrolling in northern Iraq hit a terrorist mortar team with a Paveway.|
|30 July 2015||GR4s, responding to reports of a machine-gun attack on Kurdish troops, were able to identify a network of bunkers and tunnels near Tal Afar – three accurate strikes were conducted using Paveway IVs on the bunker and tunnel entrances.|
|31 July 2015||One of our aircraft helped coordinate a strike on an ISIL position by a coalition aircraft. The Reaper then spotted terrorists burying explosives under a railway line, and was able to direct a successful attack by the supporting coalition jet. The Reaper also conducted two strikes with its own Hellfire missiles, destroying two vehicles at an ISIL-held compound.|
|2 August 2015||Another Reaper destroyed a further truck in the same area, and provided surveillance support for a successful coalition air strike on an armed pick-up truck.|
|4 August 2015||Two RAF Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, used Paveway IV precision guided bombs to strike six of the fortified ISIL targets.|
|5 August 2015||An RAF Reaper meanwhile provided close air support to Iraqi army offensive operations in Anbar Governorate. A group of armed terrorists were spotted getting into a vehicle, which was then tracked by the Reaper's crew – despite the speed of the target, it was successfully hit by a Hellfire missile. Two GR4s also supported Iraqi units near Bayji, and successfully destroyed a vehicle and terrorist group attempting to hide under pipework at a disused industrial site with a Paveway IV.|
|6 August 2015||Our aircraft once more provided close air support to the peshmerga, this time to the east of Mosul, and Tornado GR4s used a Brimstone missile to destroy a pick-up truck used by a terrorist rocket team.|
|9 August 2015||An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft provided close air support to Iraqi army units conducting operations against ISIL terrorists in western Iraq. A large trailer was identified, concealed under trees, being loaded with bags of explosives. The Reaper's crew destroyed the trailer and the explosives with a pair of Hellfire missiles. A second vehicle carrying explosives was then investigated in the same area and, despite again being concealed under trees, a direct hit from a Hellfire destroyed the truck and its deadly load.
Meanwhile, in northern Iraq, two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, were similarly denying the terrorists large quantities of explosives; another coalition aircraft had identified large stockpiles being held by ISILin two storage buildings at a site from which the civilians had been driven out. Two Paveway bombs were used to strike the buildings, with the stockpiled explosives completely destroyed.
|10 August 2015||A Reaper operating in support of the Kurdish peshmerga; it conducted four successful Hellfire attacks during its patrol, destroying an enemy vehicle and three terrorist positions. Tornado GR4s were also active, conducting simultaneous attacks with Brimstone missiles on an ISIL excavator and truck which were caught in the process of constructing fortified positions near Khorsabad.|
|11 August 2015||GR4s used a Paveway guided bomb to hit yet another large stockpile of explosives, which it appeared were being prepared for use as improvised explosive devices.|
|12 August 2015||An RAF Reaper delivered successful Hellfire attacks on an ISIL position and a truck.|
|13 August 2015||A coordinated attack to be mounted by coalition jets against multiple targets, with the GR4s dropping Paveway IV guided bombs. A second flight of GR4s then provided close air support through the evening to the peshmerga, in the course of which a successful strike was conducted on a terrorist mortar position.|
|14 August 2015||An RAF Reaper flew overwatch for Iraqi troops, supported by artillery, as they engaged a number of terrorist positions. The Reaper's crew used its advanced surveillance capabilities to pinpoint a group of terrorists who were firing on the Iraqi forces from a concealed position in a treeline, allowing coalition fast jets to conduct a successful strike with guided bombs. The Reaper then identified a heavy machine-gun team and eliminated the threat with an Hellfire missile. It continued to work closely with the coalition fast jets, assisting them in an attack that destroyed two more terrorist positions, then delivered another Hellfire attack of its own, destroying a truck as the ISIL fighters retreated.|
|16 August 2015||Tornado GR4s providing close air support to the Iraqi army near Bayji spotted 2 ISILvehicles, a bulldozer and an armoured truck, close to the front line. The vehicles were destroyed by a simultaneous attack with a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs.|
|18 August 2015||A Reaper operating over western Iraq used a Hellfire to strike an armed pick-up truck, with a second such vehicle destroyed the following day by another Reaper.|
|19 August 2015||A Tornado GR4 patrol providing support to the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq used Paveways to destroy first a pair of rocket launchers, then an ISIL supply truck.|
|20 August 2015||A Tornado patrol located two mechanical excavator vehicles near Mosul, which the ISILterrorists were using to construct fortified positions to defend against the Kurdish peshmerga's recent successful offensives in the area. Both of the vehicles were destroyed by our aircraft using Brimstone missiles. Further south, an RAF Reaper was providing support that day to Iraqi army units; a large truck-bomb was spotted, positioned on the central reservation of a major road to threaten any advance by the Iraqi security forces along that route. A Hellfire missile destroyed the vehicle. The Reaper's crew then conducted surveillance against a building suspected of being a bomb-making location, where armed terrorists were seen moving a large number of sacks of home-made explosives, and preparing improvised explosive devices. Successful Hellfire attacks were conducted against the facility and the bomb-makers.|
|21 August 2015||Reaper Hellfires were used to destroy 2 ISIL fighting positions, including one heavy machine-gun team that had opened fire on the Iraqi forces.|
|22 August 2015||A Tornado patrol near Ar Rutbah located another pair of engineering vehicles which were being used by the terrorists to construct defences, and these were both destroyed by direct hits from Brimstone missiles.|
|24 August 2015||A Reaper helped a coalition fast jet to successfully target a well-concealed terrorist sniper who was firing on Iraqi security forces, and the next day saw another Reaper conduct three Hellfire attacks on terrorist positions.|
|26 August 2015||Reapers were particularly active, supporting the Kurdish peshmerga, and conducted a total of five successful strikes on terrorist groups attempting to manoeuvre on foot and in vehicles in the open desert.|
|27 August 2015||An RAF Reaper flew an armed reconnaissance mission over northern Iraq, where offensives by the Kurdish peshmerga have forced the ISIL terrorists onto the defensive. The Reaper spotted a pick-up truck and a Hellfire missile scored a direct hit and a very large secondary blast confirmed that it had been loaded with explosives for use as a suicide truck-bomb.|
|28 August 2015||Again in northern Iraq, another RAF Reaper observed ISIL extremists forcing civilian occupants to flee from a village. Our aircraft observed groups of armed terrorists making their way to a building in the middle of the village; a Hellfire missile destroyed the building.|
|30 August 2015||GR4 patrol identified an excavator being used by ISIL to prepare a defensive position east of Mosul; the vehicle was destroyed with a Paveway IV guided bomb.|
|1 September 2015||A Reaper patrolling in western Iraq, where it spotted a vehicle check-point close to the Syrian border being used by the terrorists to prevent the movement of traffic. The Reaper's crew conducted a successful strike with a Hellfire.|
|2 September 2015||Another Reaper provided air support to Iraqi army units operating in western Iraq. The aircraft conducted four successful attacks on terrorist targets. With the ISIL in Ramadi increasingly cut-off and isolated by the Iraqi security forces, terrorists were spotted loading hundreds of mortar and rocket rounds onto a boat, which then attempted to smuggle the ammunition down the Euphrates river. A direct hit by one of the Reaper's Hellfires sank the boat and its cargo. The Reaper then destroyed three vehicles, two armoured trucks and a bull-dozer, using a pair of Hellfire missiles and a Paveway guided bomb, with significant secondary explosions confirming large quantities of explosives. Elsewhere in Iraq, a second Reaper successfully attacked a terrorist position with a Hellfire, whilst GR4s located an enemy engineering vehicle near Mosul, constructing a fortified position, and destroyed it with a Paveway.|
|3 September 2015||A Reaper observed another load of mortar and rocket ammunition being prepared for transport and destroyed it with a Hellfire.|
|4 September 2015||A Reaper patrol supported two coalition air strikes on terrorist positions, then conducted its own attack on an ISIL team armed with rocket-propelled grenades, after they had fired on Iraqi forces.|
|6 September 2015||Two Tornado GR4s conducted four Paveway strikes on a series of machine-gun nests near Sinjar, neutralising the threat these presented to the Kurds.|
|7 September 2015||A Reaper destroyed an ammunition truck, whilst the reconnaissance work of another Reaper discovered a large terrorist network of bunkers and trenches: our aircraft provided targeting support to three successful attacks by coalition fast and conducted five attacks with its own weapons. Near Bayji, a pair of Tornado GR4s flew close air support for Iraqi troops, and used Paveway IVs to destroy three buildings held by terrorist teams.|
|8 September 2015||A Reaper patrolling over western Iraq discovered several large stockpiles of explosives close to the Euphrates River. It destroyed one of the stockpiles with its own Hellfire missile, a skiff waiting to transport the explosives was sunk in the blast – and helped coalition fast jets target three more. The Reaper's crew also provided support to successful air strikes on a terrorist-held compound and a fighting position.|
|9 September 2015||A Reaper used Hellfires to destroy two vehicles being prepared as car-bombs.|
|10 September 2015||Another Reaper patrol identified a group of heavily armed ISIL fighters gathering in a building. Both the building and a vehicle used by the terrorists were destroyed with Hellfires, and the Reaper also assisted coalition aircraft in 13 successful attacks on further terrorist positions nearby. Elsewhere in the country, a second Reaper conducted two attacks on extremists attempting to attack Iraqi troops, whilst in northern Iraq, a pair of Tornado GR4s used a Paveway IV precision guided bomb to destroy a building from which the terrorists had been firing a heavy weapon at the Kurdish peshmerga.|
|11 September 2015||A Reaper supported a Kurdish offensive operation to clear an ISIL-held village, in the course of which it engaged a defensive position with a Hellfire.|
|13 September 2015||Again in northern Iraq, near to Sinjar, a Paveway from a Tornado mission destroyed a terrorist group, armed with rocket-propelled grenades.|
|14 September 2015||The Tornado GR4s patrolling near Mosul, where they attacked a rocket-firing position, while a Reaper operating over Anbar Governorate, struck a pair of terrorists who had been spotted preparing a booby-trap, then supported two further coalition air strikes in the area.|
|15 September 2015||A Reaper assisted coalition strikes on ISIL rocket launchers in western Iraq, then used Hellfires to attack an ISIL team as they attempted to arm a "daisy-chain" of linked improvised explosive devices and a GBU-12 guided bomb against a hostile fighting position.|
|16 September 2015||GR4s bombed two terrorist positions, including a heavy-machine gun, which were firing on Kurdish troops and in western Iraq a Reaper destroyed an engineering vehicle and a large car-bomb which ISIL were positioning to attempt to hold up Iraqi advances.|
|19 September 2015||Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga as they conducted offensive operations. Near Sinjar, the peshmerga came under fire from a heavy machine-gun positioned in a building. This was destroyed by our aircraft using a Paveway IV precision guided bomb. The GR4s then flew east to the area around Mosul, where another Kurdish unit was being engaged by a terrorist mortar team; this too was neutralised by a Paveway IV.|
|20 September 2015||An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft on patrol over western Iraq launched a Hellfire missile which destroyed a stockpile of explosives.|
|21 September 2015||Another Reaper, operating over north-west Iraq, identified two vehicles carrying ISILterrorists which were successfully tracked and destroyed with Hellfire missiles.|
|24 September 2015||Tornado GR4s were again on patrol near Mosul when they were called upon to assist a Kurdish unit under fire from an ISIL mortar; the terrorist position was hit in a Paveway strike.|
|27 September 2015||An RAF Reaper on a surveillance mission over northern Iraq observed a number of armed terrorists as they moved between buildings in a pair of compounds and successfully attacked three terrorist positions, using Hellfire missiles.|
|29 September 2015||Again in northern Iraq, a Reaper tracked a car carrying a number of ISIL extremists to a building, which was destroyed with a Hellfire. The Reaper was also able to support two other coalition air strikes in the immediate area, which destroyed a vehicle and a fighting position.|
|30 September 2015||Two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga advancing west of Kirkuk, who had come under fire from two ISIL heavy machine-gun positions. Both positions were successfully hit using Paveway IVs, removing the threat posed to the Kurdish troops.|
|1 October 2015||An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled ahead of Kurdish peshmerga as they conducted their latest offensive against the ISIL terror network in northern Iraq. The Reaper's crew identified a team of armed terrorists moving on foot and successfully engaged them with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then provided support to a coalition air strike on an ISIL facility, where car-bombs were being assembled; our aircraft used its sensors to sweep the surrounding area, ensuring there was no risk to civilians, before the air strike went ahead and destroyed the target.|
|2 October 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri also provided close air support to the peshmerga, south-west of Kirkuk. ISIL extremists were spotted and were struck by a Paveway IV guided bomb. Meanwhile, further south and west, a Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike on an ISIL-held building, then used one of its Hellfires to destroy an armoured truck. The Reaper then provided targeting support to another coalition aircraft as it engaged a terrorist heavy machine-gun concealed under trees.|
|4 October 2015||RAF GR4s patrolling over western Iraq, where they destroyed an anti-aircraft gun position with a Paveway IV. A Reaper was also operating over Anbar Governorate, and it supported coalition air attacks on two ISIL buildings and a heavy machine-gun.|
|5 October 2015||A Reaper, again operating over the west of the country, identified a terrorist team as they planted an improvised explosive device, and successfully attacked them with a Hellfire.|
|7 October 2015||A pair of Tornados assisted Kurdish security forces when an advance west of Kirkuk came under fire from an ISIL mortar. The terrorist heavy weapon was struck by a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.|
|8 October 2015||A Reaper located an ISIL check-point, used to prevent local civilians from enjoying any freedom of movement. The Reaper's crew were able to conduct a successful attack using a Hellfire missile.|
|11 October 2015||Tornado GR4s again provided close air support to the Kurdish forces, on this occasion north of Mosul. As with the incident earlier in the week, a terrorist mortar opened fire on the peshmerga, but was silenced by a Paveway IV strike.|
|16 October 2015||GR4s used a Paveway to destroy an ISIL heavy machine-gun position.|
|18 October 2015||A Reaper patrolling ahead of Iraqi troops identified two large truck-bombs and successfully attacked them with Hellfire missiles.|
|21 October 2015||Two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri identified a group of armed ISIL terrorists in Ramadi and successfully engaged them with a Paveway IV guided bomb.|
|23 October 2015||The crew of a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft identified an ISIL armoured personnel carrier, concealed under a large building. Despite the difficulty this target posed, the crew were able to position to destroy the vehicle with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then supported another coalition aircraft in a successful strike on a second terrorist vehicle which had been identified nearby.|
|24 October 2015||Another Reaper worked closely with coalition jets to carry out a series of precision attacks on terrorist positions. The Reaper identified two terrorist sniper positions, which were struck by guided bombs from a coalition aircraft. Advancing Iraqi troops then came into close combat with a group of terrorists; the Reaper maintained close observation on the firefight, and was able to eliminate one terrorist team, without endangering the Iraqi soldiers, using a Hellfire missile. When the terrorists retreated to positions in a trench and a culvert, the Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike which destroyed the trench, and conducted a second Hellfire strike itself on the extremists.|
|25 October 2015||An RAF Reaper again joined forces with coalition fast jets to help them target two terrorist-held buildings which were successfully attacked, then mounted two strikes with Hellfire missiles on ISIL terrorists as they attempted to reposition themselves.|
|29 October 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Iraqi troops operating near Bayji. 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.|
|30 October 2015||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.|
|1 November 2015||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 Governorate, 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.|
|2 November 2015||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.|
|3 November 2015||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.|
|5 November 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri were able, despite bad weather, to use Paveway IV guided bombs against a pair of ISIL fortified positions near Sinjar; the Kurdish unit whom the GR4s were supporting confirmed that both terrorist positions had been destroyed.|
|8 November 2015||The GR4s were again in action over northern Iraq, destroying a further two ISIL positions near Tal Afar, which had been firing at Kurdish forces, including a rocket launch site concealed in a building.|
|9 November 2015||GR4s provided close air support to a Kurdish unit on the outskirts of Sinjar, which was in close combat with terrorists, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, who were defending a fortified compound. Despite the proximity of the Kurdish troops, our aircrew were able to conduct a carefully planned attack with two Paveway IV guided bombs that destroyed the compound.|
|11 November 2015||A Reaper used a GBU-12 guided bomb to destroy a terrorist-held building near Sinjar, then successfully attacked with a Hellfire missile a group of ISIL fighters as they attempted to move to a new position. Meanwhile, over Ramadi, a Tornado patrol destroyed a terrorist truck bomb with a Brimstone missile.|
|12 November 2015||The Reaper's controllers were also able to conduct two successful strikes with Hellfire missiles on groups of terrorists as they attempted to react to the Kurdish advance. Although Sinjar was the focus for much coalition air activity, patrols were maintained over other areas of Iraq where the fight against ISIL continues, and RAF Tornado GR4s provided close air support to the Iraqi units closing in on the terrorist positions in Ramadi. Just north of the city, a terrorist supply truck was identified at the mouth of an underpass, and destroyed by a direct hit from a Brimstone missile.|
|13 November 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air tanker, provided close air support to Iraqi troops fighting in the area around Ramadi. Our aircraft conducted four successful attacks on a set of ISIL terrorist positions, using a combination of Paveway IV guided bombs and Brimstone missiles. A second Tornado patrol continued to support the Iraqi forces during the night, and destroyed a terrorist armoured personnel carrier with a direct hits from a Brimstone missile. Meanwhile, further north an RAF Reaper assisted an Iraqi unit which reported that, following a firefight, a group of ISIL terrorists had taken shelter in a derelict industrial site, hiding under an oil tank. Despite the close proximity of the Iraqi soldiers, the Reaper's crew were able to direct a GBU-12 guided bomb onto the terrorist position and destroy it, without risk to the friendly forces.|
|15 November 2015||RAF Reaper flew overwatch, destroying a terrorist vehicle with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then crossed into Syrian airspace where it conducted routine intelligence collection against ISIL and provided surveillance support to the major French air strike on a large terrorist facility near Raqqa|
|16 November 2015||Two successive Tornado patrols extended the support to the Kurdish offensive. The first flight used a Paveway bomb to destroy a mortar position which had opened fire on the Kurds. The following mission destroyed a heavy machine-gun near Mosul with a Paveway IV, then proceeded west towards Sinjar. There was heavy cloud, which may have encouraged the terrorists to assume that they were safe from air attack, but working very closely with the Kurdish forces, the GR4s were able to guide a Paveway onto a large group of over 30 ISIL terrorists who were massing for a counter-attack; the Kurdish unit subsequently reported that the air strike had been highly effective. The Tornado patrol then destroyed another ISIL mortar position south-west of Sinjar.|
|17 November 2015||Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri provided close air support to Iraqi ground forces closing in on Ramadi. Our aircraft conducted three successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs, destroying an improvised artillery piece – a so-called "Hell Cannon" – and two heavy machine-gun positions. Support was also given to the Kurdish forces as they exploited their recent victory at Sinjar, and on Thursday, Tornados used a Paveway to destroy an ISIL sniper position which had opened fire on Kurdish troops, then scored a direct hit with a Brimstone missile on a terrorist vehicle near Sinjar. The same day saw a Reaper flying overwatch for Iraqi troops further south, and it successfully struck a group of terrorists with a Hellfire missile.|
|20 November 2015||Reapers conducted three strikes on Friday 20 November: two Hellfires destroyed an armed pick-up truck and a terrorist check-point, whilst a GBU-12 guided bomb eliminated a large group of terrorists gathered at a weapons cache. Two more ISIL check-points were struck by a Reaper over Northern Iraq.|
|22 November 2015||Tornado GR4s attacked an ISIL vehicle armed with an anti-aircraft gun and a stockpile of home-made explosives, destroying both with Paveways.|
|25 November 2015||Two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri patrolled near Mosul, and conducted three precision attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs on groups of terrorist fighters. In addition, a terrorist vehicle was destroyed by a direct hit from a Brimstone missile. The Tornados then flew west to the area south-east of Sinjar, where a fourth Paveway strike destroyed an ISIL heavy machine-gun position.
A second Tornado patrol continued to support the Kurdish ground operations into the night, and it used a Paveway to destroy a heavy machine-gun position to the south-west of Sinjar. Meanwhile, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft was also providing overwatch for the Kurdish troops, using its advanced surveillance sensors, and its crew conducted a successful attack with a GBU-12 guided bomb on a building in a terrorist-held compound near Mosul.
|26 November 2015||RAF Tornado GR4 and Reaper aircraft have continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions over Iraq, gathering intelligence and striking terrorist targets as they are identified. A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft operated with coalition fast jets providing close air support to Iraqi units conducting offensive operations against ISIL in Ramadi. The Reaper's crew provided surveillance assistance to a successful coalition strike that eliminated an ISIL sniper team and then employed its own GBU-12 guided bomb to destroy a terrorist-held building. ornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri were flying close air support for Kurdish forces who were exploiting their recent victory over the terrorists at Sinjar. An ISIL heavy machine-gun opened fire on the Kurds near Kisik, but an accurate Paveway attack by the GR4s through heavy cloud successfully dealt with the threat.|
|27 November 2015||A Reaper was again active over Ramadi, where it assisted a coalition air strike on a terrorist-held building. The Reaper then observed a fuel tanker which had been adapted to be a large booby-trap; this was positioned in an area from which the civilian population had fled, and which lay in the path of the Iraqi advance. A precision attack with a Hellfire missile safely destroyed the tanker. A second Reaper supported the Kurds south of Sinjar, and conducted two successful attacks with its Hellfires, destroying two terrorist vehicles, one of which was a car-bomb.|
|29 November 2015||A Tornado patrol over western Iraq conducted four strikes around Ramadi and Haditha: our aircraft used Paveway IVs to neutralise yet another large car-bomb, and destroy two ISIL-held buildings. The fourth strike was with a Brimstone missile, which eliminated a pair of terrorists, mounted on a motorcycle, who were attempting to plant an improvised explosive device. Also in western Iraq, a Reaper fired a Hellfire missile to attack an ISIL vehicle check-point, used by the terrorists to extort tolls from passing traffic and thereby restrict free movement by the civilian population.|
|30 November 2015||UK GR4s were once again in action, supporting the Kurdish peshmerga south of Sinjar. Three heavy machine-gun positions were identified, and each struck accurately by a Paveway IV.|
|4 December 2015||A pair of GR4s patrolled over western Iraq, where they provided close air support to Iraqi forces engaged in combat with ISIL in and around Ramadi. A terrorist sniper team opened fire from a compound on Iraqi troops, but was silenced by a direct hit from a Paveway IV guided bomb.|
|7 December 2015||A pair of Tornado GR4s provided close air support to offensive operations by Iraqi forces in western Ramadi. An ISIL mortar position was identified and successfully engaged with a Brimstone missile. Over northern Iraq, a Reaper was meanwhile supporting Kurdish troops, and it used a Hellfire missile to destroy a terrorist vehicle.|
|8 December 2015||West of Qayyara, Tornados conducted two Brimstone attacks on ISIL terrorists. That evening, a further pair of Tornados assisted Iraqi soldiers north-east of Bayji; the GR4s used Paveway IVs to destroy three ISIL positions which were directing heavy machine-gun and mortar fire at the Iraqis.|
|9 December 2015||A pair of Tornados provided close air support to Kurdish soldiers fighting ISIL in northern Iraq, and used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a terrorist position, including a mortar team, centred on a building near Kisik. A Reaper maintained overwatch for the Kurds into the night, and having assisted other coalition aircraft in a successful strike on a heavy machine-gun position, its crew conducted successful Hellfire missile attacks of their own against three ISIL vehicles south of Sinjar, despite the trucks being parked under cover.|
|10 December 2015||Two Typhoons, working in close cooperation with another coalition aircraft, carried out Paveway IV bomb attacks on a terrorist-held building and a bunker in northern Iraq. A Tornado patrol was meanwhile operating in conjunction with a Reaper south-west of Sinjar; the Tornados destroyed another ISIL building and a mortar position with Paveways, whilst the Reaper followed up with a successful Hellfire attack on a terrorist location. The Reaper stayed on patrol to support the Kurdish forces, and when they came under fire from a sniper, eliminated the threat with a direct hit from a GBU-12 guided bomb. Before returning to base, the Reaper destroyed an ISIL vehicle with a Hellfire.|
|11 December 2015||Two Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Akrotiri provided close air support to Kurdish peshmerga operating near Mosul. Our aircraft used a Paveway IV guided bomb to destroy a heavy machine-gun position that was firing on the peshmerga, then employed two more Paveway IVs against a group of ISIL extremists as they attacked the Kurdish troops. Further west, south of Sinjar, a Reaper similarly supported Kurdish forces, and its crew conducted a successful attack with a GBU-12 guided bomb on a sniper team which had opened fire from a building. The Reaper subsequently delivered a second successful attack, striking a group of terrorists with a Hellfire missile as they set up rocket launchers. That night, Typhoons returned to patrol over the Mosul region, and attacked an ISIL mortar position with a Paveway IV.|
|13 December 2015||Typhoons employed a Paveway IV in a successful attack on ten terrorists as they manned a rocket launcher position, whilst Tornado GR4s used Paveways to strike both a mortar firing point and another rocket launcher team.|
|14 December 2015||A Paveway IV attack by Typhoons destroyed a sniper position near Sinjar, while nearby, Tornados silenced a pair of heavy machine-guns that were firing on the Kurdish forces, the Kurds reporting that both weapons hit their targets with great accuracy despite difficult weather conditions.|
|List of Airstrikes in 2014|
|27 September 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft of No. 2 Squadron RAF took off from RAF Akrotiri on their first armed reconnaissance patrol. The aircraft did not identify any targets requiring immediate air attack during their patrol, so instead gathered vital intelligence for coalition forces. Both aircraft were supported by a Voyager aerial refueling tanker.|
|30 September 2014||The RAF conducted its first airstrike. A patrol of two Tornado GR4's were tasked with assisting Kurdish fighters under attack from Islamic militants in northwest Iraq. The Tornado patrol identified a heavy weapon position and then engaged it with a Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. Following the engagement, the patrol then identified a second target: an armed pickup truck – which it destroyed using a Brimstone air-to-surface missile.|
|1 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft were tasked with providing aerial reconnaissance to Iraqi government forces west of Baghdad. The armed patrol observed a location suspected of being used as a command and control facility. Whilst on scene, the aircraft were able to identify ISIL activity. Four Brimstone missiles were used to conduct a precision attack on two vehicles.|
|2 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft were tasked with providing vital air support to Peshmerga forces which were making an advance on ISIL positions. The aircraft engaged an armed pickup truck with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.|
|3 October 2014||Prime Minister David Cameron announced the deployment of a further two Tornado GR4 strike aircraft during a surprise visit to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. It was also revealed during the same day that the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender had been assigned to protect USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) as she launched aircraft into Iraq and Syria.|
|7 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft attacked a fortified building in Ramadi with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb. The building was being used as a firing point to launch attacks on Iraqi ground forces by militants.|
|8 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft completed another round of airstrikes overnight in support of Iraqi ground forces.|
|12 October 2014||The U.S. Department of Defense announced that British and American aircraft had been involved in a series of airstrikes around Hīt, Kirkuk, and Ramadi, destroying armed pickup trucks and armoured personnel carriers.|
|16 October 2014||The Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicles to assist with surveillance over Iraq. In addition to surveillance, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed during a statement that "If strike operations are required then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed."|
|19 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft provided close air support to an Iraqi convoy south of Fallujah which had been under attack from militants. Two ISIL trucks were destroyed using Brimstone missiles.|
|20 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft were involved in an airstrike against an ISIL main battle tank near Ramadi. The aircraft engaged the tank using a Brimstone missile.|
|24 October 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft were involved in a coordinated coalition airstrike on a former Iraqi military base near Kirkuk, which had been taken over by militants and used as a logistics hub. The aircraft attacked the base using two Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. The Ministry of Defence statement on the attacks also revealed that Reaper UCAV's were supporting operations in the area.|
|1 November 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft attacked and destroyed a heavily armed pickup truck belonging to Islamic State using a Brimstone missile.|
|3 November 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft attacked and destroyed an Islamic State armoured vehicle in Al Qaim, north-west of Baghdad. A Brimstone missile was used to conduct the attack.|
|4 November 2014||Two Tornado GR4 aircraft, flying in support of Iraqi ground forces near Bayji, north of Baghdad, attacked and destroyed an Islamic State pickup truck using a Brimstone missile.|
|9 November 2014||Two Tornado GR4's destroyed a shipping container which was being used by ISIL to support extortion in Al Anbar, west of Baghdad. A single Brimstone missile was used to conduct the attack.|
|10 November 2014||The first MQ-9 Reaper strike was conducted by the RAF in Bayji, north of Baghdad. The Reaper identified and attacked a group of ISIL militants which had been laying improvised explosive devices in the area. A single Hellfire air-to-surface missile was used to conduct the attack.|
|13 November 2014||The second MQ-9 Reaper strike was conducted in Kirkuk, north of Baghdad. Whilst on a reconnaissance patrol, the Reaper identified multiple ISIL positions, including a command post, bunker, observation post and two armed pick-up trucks which were destroyed by coalition aircraft. A further three ISIL positions were then identified which the Reaper then destroyed using its own Hellfire missiles.|
|17 November 2014||An MQ-9 Reaper attacked and destroyed a dug-in ISIL machine gun position with a Hellfire missile in support of Peshmerga fighters. The Reaper then identified a checkpoint set up by ISIL on a road and destroyed it using a Hellfire missile.
Whilst investigating possible ISIL activity in response to advancing Iraqi forces, another MQ-9 Reaper elsewhere in Iraq identified several ISIL fighters boarding a truck. Despite the vehicle travelling at high speed, the Reaper was able to hit it with a Hellfire missile.
Supported by a Voyager aerial refueling tanker, a patrol of two Tornado GR4's conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over western and northern Iraq. In the western desert, the aircraft were tasked to destroy a communications vehicle which coalition aircraft had previously identified. The patrol destroyed the vehicle using a single Brimstone missile. The Tornado's were then called north to the Mosul area to support Peshmerga fighters which were under intense fire from ISIL heavy weapons. Several Paveway IV laser-guided bombs were used to destroy a mortar and multiple heavy weapon positions, as well as a bulldozer which ISIL was using to construct defences in the area.
|19 November 2014||RAF aircraft participated in a major coordinated coalition airstrike on a network of underground bunkers and tunnels used by ISIL. Tornado GR4's were put into action with their Paveway IV laser-guided bombs, alongside coalition aircraft from seven other nations, including Australia, Canada, France and the United States.
Elsewhere in Iraq, an MQ-9 Reaper destroyed a bulldozer being used by ISIL to halt an Iraqi advance. The attack was carried out using a Hellfire missile.
|20 November 2014||RAF aircraft provided support to Iraqi ground forces which were countering ISIL activity in the vicinity of the Bayji oil refinery, north of Baghdad. A Tornado GR4 attacked three buildings occupied by ISIL militants in a compound nearby, using three Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.
Meanwhile, an MQ-9 Reaper attacked and destroyed three ISIL vehicles with Hellfire missiles elsewhere in Iraq.
|26 November 2014||Tornado GR4 and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft were involved in several airstrikes against ISIL in support of Peshmerga forces. The attacks initially began with a Tornado destroying an ISIL fighting position using Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. The Tornado's then joined a Reaper in a combined attack on 9 ISIL vehicles, which included armoured personnel carriers and armed pickup trucks. A combination of Brimstone and Hellfire missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs were used to conduct the attacks.
During the afternoon of the same day, another MQ-9 Reaper conducted an attack elsewhere in Iraq. The drone launched a Hellfire missile which destroyed an ISIL position on top of a building which was being used to attack Iraqi ground forces.
HMS Defender concluded its six-month maiden deployment to the Middle East, which involved her assisting the U.S. Navy in their airstrikes against the Islamic State.
|1 December 2014||The RAF flew a number of armed sorties throughout the day. In the morning, two Tornado GR4's investigated a reported ISIL compound near Tel Afar in north-western Iraq. The aircraft were able to identify a cluster of armoured personnel carriers which they were able to attack and destroy using their Brimstone missiles.
During the same day, another pair of Tornados provided air support to Iraqi ground forces near Tikrit which were engaged in a major firefight with ISIL. Two ISIL positions were identified and then destroyed by the Tornado's using their Brimstone missiles.
Meanwhile, an MQ-9 Reaper, which was embarked on a separate patrol, was able to attack and destroy three ISIL positions using Hellfire missiles.
Later in the day, another MQ-9 Reaper conducted a reconnaissance patrol in northern Iraq, looking to identify ISIL groups taking up new positions as they retreated from an advance by Peshmerga forces. The Reaper was able to identify two ISIL positions which coalition aircraft were able to attack. The Reaper then identified a third ISIL position and engaged it using one of its own Hellfire missiles.
|3 December 2014||Two Tornado GR4's were tasked to investigate ISIL activity near Fallujah. A large group of ISIL vehicles, including pickup trucks and lorries, was identified and destroyed using a cluster of Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. One truck appeared to survive the strike, but was later destroyed by the Tornados using a Brimstone missile.
Meanwhile, an MQ-9 Reaper attacked an ISIL vehicle elsewhere in Iraq using a Hellfire missile.
|5 December 2014||A patrol of Tornado GR4's investigated reported ISIL activity near Rawa in western Iraq. An observation tower and nearby equipment were located and attacked with Paveway IV guided bombs.|
|6 December 2014||In the early hours of the morning, a Tornado GR4 patrol over Rawa in western Iraq successfully attacked an ISIL armoured personnel carrier using a Brimstone missile.|
|7 December 2014||Two Tornado GR4's dispatched to provide support to Iraqi ground forces under fire from ISIL terrorists in the vicinity of Bayji. The aircraft were able to identify the ISIL position and then destroy it using a Brimstone missile.|
|8 December 2014||Early in the morning, a Tornado patrol operating in north-western Iraq, around Mount Sinjar, located two ISIL armoured personnel carriers and hit them with Brimstone missiles.|
|9 December 2014||A patrol of two Tornado GR4's were tasked to investigate ISIL activity in Mount Sinjar. The aircraft identified an observation tower and guard room in use by the terrorists at a checkpoint controlling a road junction. These were being used to deny the local population any freedom of movement and both were attacked with Brimstone missiles.
Elsewhere in Iraq, an RAF Reaper, providing surveillance for Iraqi ground forces, observed a hostile armoured personnel carrier and successfully attacked it with a Hellfire missile.
|10 December 2014||Early in the day, an unspecified number of Tornado GR4's attacked an ISIL storage compound near Rawah in Al Anbar Governorate with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.|
|12 December 2014||An MQ-9 Reaper set out on an armed patrol to locate engineering equipment used by ISIL to create defensive positions. The Reaper was able to locate two engineering vehicles and attacked them both with Hellfire missiles.
Meanwhile, further south, another Reaper located an ISIL armed pickup truck and engaged it with a Hellfire missile.
Elsewhere in Iraq, in Anbar Governorate, a patrol of Tornado GR4's provided aerial support to Iraqi soldiers engaged in a firefight with ISIL militants near Ramadi. The Tornado's were able to attack several ISIL firing positions and three ISIL vehicles, including two armoured personnel carriers, using Brimstone missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.
During the same day, the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Kent (F78) arrived in the Persian Gulf and provided escort to U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) as she launched aircraft into Iraq and Syria. HMS Defender had previously undertaken this task, but has since concluded her deployment and returned to Portsmouth. The Lynx crew aboard HMS Kent also provided assistance to French frigate Jean Bart (D615), which was also supporting the USS Carl Vinson, when its embarked Panther helicopter ran into technical difficulties.
|18 December 2014||A patrol of Tornado GR4's, along with other coalition aircraft, provided air support to Peshmerga forces which were mounting an offensive against ISIL. The patrol conducted a coordinated attack using Paveway IV-laser guided bombs against a line of trenches, bunkers and gun emplacements constructed by ISIL between Mosul and Tal Afar. The same Tornado patrol then flew south to support another Peshmerga offensive against ISIL in Anbar Governorate. The patrol destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, which was being used to deny local people freedom of movement along a major road near Rawah. An attack was conducted with a Brimstone missile on a guard room and equipment store used by those manning the checkpoint.|
|19 December 2014||Two Tornado GR4's used Paveway IV laser-guided bombs to attack a fortified compound belonging to ISIL.
During the night, another MQ-9 Reaper provided aerial surveillance to Peshmerga forces making an advance against ISIL. The Reaper conducted three airstrikes on ISIL fighting positions using its Hellfire missiles.
|19 December 2014||An MQ-9 Reaper was tasked to locate a group of ISIL terrorists which had open fired on advancing Iraqi troops. The Reaper was able to locate the terrorists, which were planting improvised explosive devices, and was able to attack them with a Hellfire missile.|
|20 December 2014||A pair of Tornado GR4's were tasked to investigate a group of vehicles near Ar Rutbah. The aircraft were able to identify the vehicles as armoured personnel carriers belonging to ISIL and attacked and destroyed them using Brimstone missiles.|
|23 December 2014||A pair of Tornado GR4's conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol near Al-Qa'im, close to the border between Iraq and Syria. Four ISIL armed pickup trucks were identified in separate locations near a quarry and were all attacked and destroyed using a combination of Brimstone missiles and Paveway IV laser-guided bombs.|
|24 December 2014||Tornado GR4's and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft provided support to Peshmerga forces on the ground. A Tornado patrol identified an ISIL armed vehicle near a former Iraqi military compound and destroyed it with a Brimstone missile. Meanwhile, a Reaper provided overwatch to a U.S. airstrike that destroyed a truck which had been converted into a large suicide bomb vehicle by ISIL. The drone then conducted its own airstrike with a Hellfire missile, destroying a pickup truck which ISIL had been using to construct a roadblock of burning tyres.|
|25 December 2014||A pair of Tornado GR4's returned to Al-Qa'im to investigate a reported ISIL checkpoint, which was being used to restrict the free movement of civilians in the area. Two Brimstone missiles were used to attack a fortified position and a shipping container being used as a guard room. A separate pair of Tornado GR4's, operating further east, located two ISIL armed vehicles concealed among some trees close to the Euphrates, south of the Haditha Dam. Both vehicles were struck with Brimstone missiles fired by the Tornados.|
|28 December 2014||An MQ-9 Reaper provided aerial support to Peshmerga forces on the ground in the north of the country. Having conducted overwatch for a coalition airstrike on three ISIL buildings known to have been fortified as heavy machine-gun positions, the Reaper then mounted two airstrikes of its own using Hellfire missiles against enemy fighting positions.|
Airstrikes in Syria
In August 2013 a motion to participate in military strikes against the Syrian government was defeated in parliament. This was the first time that a British government was blocked from taking a military action by parliament.
On 10 September 2014, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond stated that Britain would not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria. This was quickly contradicted by a spokesman of the Prime Minister who said that the Prime Minister had "not ruled anything out" as far as airstrikes against ISIL were concerned.
On 26 September 2014, shortly after the vote in Parliament to authorise airstrikes in Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that there was a case for airstrikes in Syria, however, he conceded that any British airstrikes in Syria would require another House of Commons vote unless it was to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
On 21 October 2014, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that surveillance missions were being flown by Royal Air Force aircraft over Syria, including MQ-9 Reaper drones based in Cyprus. On 26 November 2015, the Prime Minister claimed that the RAF's Reaper drones were responsible for 30% of the coalition's aerial surveillance in Syria.
On 30 June 2015, David Cameron made repeated calls for airstrikes in Syria, following the 2015 Sousse attacks, perpetrated by ISIL, which left 30 Britons dead. These calls were echoed by the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who claimed that there was an "illogicality" of British forces observing the Iraq-Syria border whilst ISIL did not. Michael Fallon stated that the UK did not need the backing of Parliament to launch airstrikes in Syria, but the House of Commons would have the final say. On 19 July 2015, during a television interview with NBC, David Cameron stated that Britain was committed to destroying the caliphate in both Iraq and Syria.
On 7 September 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that two British-born Islamic State fighters, Rayeed Khan and Rahoul Amin, were targeted and killed in Syria by a Royal Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone. During a statement in Parliament, the Prime Minister explained that it was a "lawful act of self defence" as the two fighters had been plotting attacks against the United Kingdom.
On 26 November 2015, following the November 2015 Paris attacks and the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249, David Cameron made his first case to Parliament for the UK to conduct airstrikes in Syria. He argued that the United Kingdom would be safer by conducting airstrikes and that the UK could not outsource its security to allies. The Prime Minister went on to state that he would not hold a vote on airstrikes until he was sure he could win it. In the days following, French President François Hollande and French Defence Secretary Jean-Yves Le Drian made calls for Britain to join airstrikes. This was followed by an appeal from the Russian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko.
On 2 December 2015, David Cameron opened a ten-hour debate in Parliament that would end with a final vote. The debate ended with 397 votes in favour of airstrikes, with 223 votes against. Hours after the vote, four Tornado GR4 strike aircraft left Cyprus and attacked ISIL positions in Syria for the first time, aided by a Voyager aerial refueling tanker and an MQ-9 Reaper drone. The aircraft attacked Omar oilfield in Eastern Syria, one of the largest sources of financial income for ISIL. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon subsequently announced that the Royal Air Force would be "doubling its strike force" with six Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighters and two more Tornado GR4 strike aircraft.
Anti-ISIL airstrikes continued well into 2019, with the UK releasing images in January 2019 of airstrikes targeting ISIL bomb factories and other targets during the Christmas holiday season in late December 2018.
|List of Airstrikes in 2016|
|11 January 2016||RAF Four Jets targeted an IS vehicle and tunnels near the town of Raqqa, the group's purported capital.|
|7 February 2016||RAF Typhoon Jets targeted an armored vehicle.|
Airstrikes in Libya
On 27 July 2015, David Cameron warned that the UK could intervene militarily in Libya if there was an imminent threat to British lives. In August 2015, The Times reported that "hundreds" of British troops were being prepared to deploy to Libya to halt the advance of ISIL.
In December 2015, it reemerged that the government was considering plans to intervene in Libya, following "extreme concern" from the Foreign Office on the rapid rise of ISIL and other extremist groups in Libya. In February 2016, the Royal Air Force had reportedly conducted reconnaissance flights over Libya. During the same month, it was widely reported that UK Special Forces were operating in Libya, alongside similar teams from the United States and France. King Abdullah II of Jordan later announced that British and Jordanian special forces were operating together in Libya.
Training and ground support
On 18 August 2014, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon disclosed during an interview that members of the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) had been deployed on the ground in Irbil to help secure the area for a possible helicopter rescue mission. The battalion, which, at the time, was the Cyprus-based Theatre Reserve Battalion (TRB) for Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, had left Irbil within 24 hours.
On 12 October 2014, the British Government agreed to send 12 members of the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) into Irbil to train Kurdish Peshmerga on how to use UK-supplied heavy machine guns. In November, the number of British troops involved in this training mission rose from 12 to 50. On 13 December 2014, the Government announced a plan to bolster this number by an additional batch of British troops numbering in the low hundreds. However, these plans were later put on hold until after the 2015 General Election. It was disclosed that a small team of combat-ready troops would have been sent along with the trainers to provide protection. The troops were to be based in Irbil and the capital Baghdad. Kurdish forces claim they have received assistance from British Special Forces.
On 1 March 2015, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the UK had trained over 1,000 Peshmerga fighters. On 7 March 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron authorised the deployment of 60 troops to Iraq to train Kurdish forces. The House of Commons Defence Committee has nevertheless argued that the UK's training and ground participation has been small compared to other Western coalition members.
On 26 March 2015, the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of around 75 military trainers and headquarter staff to Turkey, and other nearby countries in the anti-ISIL coalition, to assist with the U.S.-led training programme in Syria. The training programme will provide small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to Syrian moderate opposition forces for over three years.
On 15 May 2015, surveillance by UK Special Forces confirmed the presence of a senior ISIL leader named Abu Sayyaf in al-Amr, Syria, after which U.S. Special Operations Forces, based in Iraq, conducted an operation to capture him. The operation resulted in his death and the capture of his wife Umm Sayyaf.
On 7 June 2015, during the G7 Summit in Bavaria, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that 125 extra military trainers would be deployed to Iraq, bringing the total to 275.
On 20 September 2015, it was reported that the Special Air Service had killed six ISIL fighters whilst rescuing an agent in Syria.
In March 2016, an additional 30 troops were deployed to train Iraqi forces, which brought the total number of deployed British troops in Iraq to 300. It was revealed in March 2016 that British forces had helped in the building up of a mechanised battalion in southern Syria, consisting of tribal fighters to combat Bashar al-Assad's army.
In June 2016, The Telegraph reported that British special forces had been operating on the frontline in Syria; in particular in May 2016, when they frequently crossed the border from Jordan, to support a New Syrian Army unit composed of former Syrian special forces defending the village of al-Tanf against ISIL attacks. The New Syrian Army captured the village in that month and faced regular ISIL attacks. British forces also helped rebuild the base following a suicide attack. The New Syrian Army acknowledged that British special forces had provided training, weapons and other equipment; an independent source confirmed that UK special forces are operating against ISIL in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
In August 2016, International Business Times reported that British special forces had begun using the XM25 CDTE "Punisher" airburst grenade launcher against ISIL in Libya. During the same month, BBC News released exclusive images showing British special forces operating in Syria. The pictures, which dated from June, were taken following an attack by IS on the New Syrian Army base of Al Tanaf and appear to be showing British special forces securing the base's perimeter. British special forces in Syria are engaged in wide-ranging roles that include surveillance, advisory and combat, in relatively small numbers.
In December 2016, the Telegraph reported that Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon said he would extend a deployment of a squadron of up to 80 Royal Engineers for a further six months as they work to provide better training facilities at the al Asad base. He also said that "The British Army have trained over 31,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga who are taking the fight to Daesh"
The BBC reported that on 2 January 2017, L/Cpl Scott Hetherington died in a 'shooting accident' at Camp Taji, Iraq, Hetherington was a member of Blenheim Company, and the Force Protection Platoon, 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment; he is the first UK soldier to die in Iraq in almost eight years. About 150 soldiers from the battalion are being deployed to Iraq for six months- forming part of a 500-strong Army force being sent to train Iraqi and Kurdish security forces.
Sky News reported on 1 September 2017 that 44 Royal Engineers of 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 22 Engineer Regiment will be deployed for six months to Al Asad Airbase in Al Anbar Governorate, Iraq, to build infrastructure at the base. Bringing the number of British personnel at the camp to more than 300 and the total in Iraq to around 600.
On 5 January 2019, two British special forces soldiers (presumably of the Special Air Service) were reportedly injured in an attack carried out by ISIL while supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces' Deir ez-Zor campaign; one Kurd also died. US troops evacuated the two soldiers.
The last eight Tornado GR4s landed back in the UK in February 2019 in preparation for retirement after 40 years of service. They are due to be replaced by the new F-35 Lightning fighter jets which were declared combat ready in January.
The F-35 conducted its first operational mission as part of Op Shader on 16 June 2019 when two Lightnings of No. 617 Squadron conducted a patrol over Syria, flying a total of 12 sorties by 25 June.
- Elements of 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS)
- Elements of 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (2 PWRR)
- Elements of 1st Battalion, The Rifles (1 RIFLES) (July 2015 – January 2017)
- Elements of 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (2 LANCS)
- Elements of The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) between February and July 2017.
- Elements of Unknown Battalion between July and December 2017.
- Elements of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS) from December 2017.
- 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 22 Engineer Regiment during 2017.
- Elements of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles (2 RIFLES)
Royal Air Force
- Headquarters No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group
- No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus comprising:
- Elements of the RAF Typhoon Force (9 x Typhoon FGR.4 multirole fighter aircraft (6 active, 3 reserve))
- Elements of the RAF Air Mobility Force:
- 1 x Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft
- 2 x Voyager KC3 tanker aircraft
- Elements of the RAF ISTAR Force:
- Elements of No. 13 Squadron and No. 39 Squadron (10 x MQ-9A Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicles stationed in Kuwait)
- Elements of No. LXX Squadron (1 x Atlas C1 transport aircraft)
- Elements of No. 99 Squadron (1 x C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft)
- Elements of No. 51 Squadron (1 x RC-135W Airseeker reconnaissance aircraft stationed at RAF Al Udeid in Qatar)
- Elements of No 14 Squadron (1 x Shadow R1 reconnaissance aircraft)
- Elements of the RAF Police
- Elements of No. 51 Squadron RAF Regiment
- Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring
- Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan
- Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender
- Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless
- Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond
- Type 23 frigate HMS Kent
- Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond
- Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans from December 2015.
- Astute-class or Trafalgar-class Unnamed nuclear-powered attack submarine
- Fort Victoria-class replenishment oiler RFA Fort Victoria
- Sea King ASaC7 helicopters
Prior to the vote in Parliament on 26 September 2014, Rushanara Ali, Labour Party MP and Shadow Education Minister, wrote to Labour Leader Ed Miliband to announce her resignation as Shadow Minister, in advance of her deliberate abstention in the vote. She wrote that, while acknowledging the "horrific and barbaric" actions of ISIL, she was concerned that British military action would create further bloodshed in Iraq. Rushanara, Bangladesh-born and Muslim, wrote that "there is a genuine belief in Muslim and non-Muslim communities that military action will only create further bloodshed and further pain for the people of Iraq". She added that she had no confidence that the potential impact of such military action on radicalization in the UK had been properly thought through.
Anti-war groups, including Stop the War Coalition (StWC), planned a protest march through London on 4 October 2014 in response to Operation Shader. A spokesman of StWC said "All evidence shows that all interventions will just cause more violence". The StWC website argued that the previous two interventions in Iraq had "helped create the current chaos". Comedian and social activist Russell Brand told StWC that "Bombing won’t work – it is going to make matters worse. It will lead to ground troops going in. That will make matters worse. These kind of operations always make things worse."
It was reported that Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith called for a specific award for those who have served in Operation Shader, after visiting troops deployed on the Operation and speaking to armed forces based at RAF Akrotiri. The proposal was submitted for review by the Operational Recognition Board at the Permanent Joint Headquarters.
On 20 September 2017, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the "Op Shader Medal" will be awarded to those serving in Iraq and Syria. He used the announcement to highlight a lack of recognition for those personnel deployed on the operation, but not located directly within the award criteria; such as Coalition Staff in Kuwait/Turkey and RAF Reaper pilots elsewhere in the Middle East.
Following the announcement, a Defence Instruction and Notice (DIN) was released confirming the eligibility, medal design and production timeline.
The medal will remain a “Coin”; the same one was used for the medals for Afghanistan and the Congo. The Awards are differentiated by the Ribbon and the clasp (if any). The Ribbons for all iterations of the OSM bear a central group of 5 stripes in light blue, dark blue and red (a broader band in the centre), to represent the 3 Services. These are flanked by a colour specifically chosen to represent the campaign. In the case of the OSM “Iraq & Syria” a recommendation will be made that this outer stripe is Air Superiority Grey, in recognition of the large number of RAF airframes participating in the operation.
Although entitlement has already been agreed, distribution of the medal will not begin until September 2018 due to financial reasons. All 3,600+ outstanding medals from 2014–2018 expected to be received by December 2018.
On 1 July 2018, a pre-release if the OSM (Iraq & Syria) was published by a medal manufacturer, showing the finalised ribbon (MOD Approved) and stating a release date of 18 July 2018. It is expected the full size medals will begin being presentated in line with this date.
On 18 July 2018, Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson presented the Operation Shader Medal, officially known as the Operational Service Medal Iraq and Syria. It has its own distinct ribbon and clasp. He also announced that Her Majesty the Queen had approved an extension to the eligibility criteria for the medal to include personnel outside of the 'conventional area of operations' in Iraq and Syria which would include the Royal Air Force's Reaper crews.
- United Kingdom and ISIL
- Military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
- Operation Okra – Australian operation against ISIL
- Operation Impact – Canadian operation against ISIL
- Opération Chammal – French operation against ISIL
- Operation Inherent Resolve – US operation against ISIL
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Two British C130 cargo planes were involved in dropping off the first batch of supplies.
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A "small number" of Chinook helicopters would also be sent for "further relief options", the Foreign Office said.
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Over four nights, the UK has successfully delivered a total of seven air drops of clean water, shelter and solar lamps with mobile phone chargers to help thousands of displaced Iraqi people.
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An RAF Rivet Joint surveillance plane equipped with listening devices has also been flying missions from al-Udeid air base in Qatar to eavesdrop on Isis communications.
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Other RAF aircraft, including Voyager refuelling tankers, and Rivet Joint and Reaper surveillance platforms, also continue to support coalition air operations.
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Troops from the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire regiment had been sent into the Kurdish capital Irbil for 24 hours to prepare the ground for a possible rescue mission by the helicopters.
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The first Operational Atlas load was delivered to Op SHADER in Cyprus on 3 Mar – a sign of things to come.
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RAF C-17 aircraft have also transported a range of non-lethal support, to be gifted by the UK to Iraq, to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus which will be transported on to the Kurdish forces.
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Oliver Colvile, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, tabled a question to the Deputy Prime Minister asking about the likelihood of Royal Navy involvement in the campaign. "He said there was already a submarine in the Persian Gulf," Mr Colvile told The Herald.
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SAS and American special forces are working with Kurdish fighters on the Iraqi front lines as part of a major offensive to push Isil jihadists back and relieve pressure on the besieged Syria town of Kobane, senior Kurdish military officers have disclosed.
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The UK government has repeatedly insisted that any such training mission would not constitute 'boots-on-the-ground' although British Special Forces are operating in the region.
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