RAF helps clear IS stronghold in Iraq after 10-day operation

Trevor Marshallsea, PA

The RAF has helped clear a stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq after a 10-day operation using missiles and bombs, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The air force worked in conjunction with Iraqi Security Forces ground troops and other coalition aircraft to clear IS forces from the Makhmur mountain region, south west of Erbil in northern Iraq, the MoD said in a statement.

The operation came to a head on March 22 when IS extremists were confirmed to be based in a network of caves in the Makhmur mountains.

“Three Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to conduct an attack using Storm Shadow missiles, the remote area having first been checked to ensure that no civilians would be placed at risk,” the MoD said.

Subsequent surveillance found the operation to have been a success.

“The British Armed Forces, alongside our Iraqi and Coalition partners, continue to root out Daesh (IS) terrorists from where they hide,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

“The UK is committed to defeating Daesh. This operation will prevent the terrorist group and its toxic ideology from regaining a foothold in Iraq and reduce its capability to coordinate attacks around the world.”

The RAF also used Paveway IV bombs during the attack, which was the first to use Storm Shadow cruise missiles in Typhoon RGR4 aircraft.

In a separate operation last Sunday, an RAF Reaper armed with Hellfire missiles completed a successful strike on a small IS camp in northern Syria, some 50 miles west of Al Hasakah, the MoD said.

A spokesperson said that while IS has been “territorially defeated”, some 10,000 IS terrorists are still at large in Syria and Iraq.

“The UK, together with 81 partner nations of the Global Coalition, therefore remains committed to working with Iraq to not only defeat Daesh but to also enhance security in the region,” the MoD statement said.