Update: air strikes against Daesh 8 January 2018


The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.



A Royal Air Force Typhoon departs on a mission supporting Operation Shader in support of the Counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria. Crown Copyright.
A Royal Air Force Typhoon departs on a mission supporting Operation Shader in support of the Counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria. Crown Copyright.


  • Tuesday 12 December – a Reaper struck a group of terrorists firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces in the east of the country.

  • Friday 15 December – a Reaper conducted attacks on two groups of terrorists in eastern Syria, and assisted a coalition air strike that destroyed a vehicle and mortar.

  • Sunday 17 December – Typhoons bombed a number of Daesh extremists in a building in eastern Syria.

  • Saturday 23 December – a Reaper struck terrorists trying to conceal themselves in an outbuilding in eastern Syria.

  • Thursday 28 December – Tornados destroyed two buildings within a Daesh defensive position in eastern Syria.

  • Friday 29 December – Tornados dealt with two terrorist positions from which fire was being directed at the Syrian Democratic Forces in the east of the country.

  • Saturday 6 January – Typhoons attacked accommodation used by Daesh, including local commanders, in eastern Syria.

  • Sunday 7 January – a Reaper struck terrorists in eastern Syria, whilst Typhoons hit a cave in Iraq, where a group of Daesh extremists were hiding.


The Syrian Democratic Forces have continued to clear a number of villages held by Daesh along the Euphrates in eastern Syria, between Abu Kamal and Mayadin. Royal Air Force Reapers have provided significant support to these operations, their very long endurance, precision weaponry and advanced surveillance equipment allowing them to maintain effective overwatch for the SDF advances on the ground. On Tuesday 12 December, a Reaper identified a small group of Daesh extremists firing on the SDF. The Reaper’s crew kept very close watch on a number of civilians, including women and children, who were evacuating the village, and waited until they were clear of the area before conducting a successful attack on the terrorists with a Hellfire missile.

Another Reaper flew a similar mission in the area on Friday 15 December. It spotted several terrorists occupying a compound and hit them with a Hellfire missile. A second group of terrorists then attempted to take up firing positions in the same compound, and were also struck with a Hellfire. Later in the day, the Reaper’s crew tracked a group of men acting suspiciously around a area of trees, and close observation identified a truck, carrying a mortar, camouflaged under the trees. The Reaper was able to pinpoint the position for coalition jets which delivered an accurate attack which destroyed the vehicle and mortar.

On Sunday 17 December, a pair of Typhoon FGR4s also provided support to the SDF in the Euphrates valley, near Abu Hardub. A coalition surveillance aircraft observed a number of extremists taking up position in a building, and the Typhoons subsequently destroyed the target with a single Paveway IV guided bomb.

Royal Air Force aircraft flew operational sorties against Daesh terrorists on every day of the winter holiday period, with the major focus remaining the provision of reconnaissance and close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces in and around the Euphrates valley. A Reaper remotely piloted aircraft worked closely with coalition jets on Saturday 23 December near Abu Hammam. The Reaper’s crew provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike on a Daesh-occupied building, then tracked a small group of terrorists as they attempted to seek shelter in an outbuilding nearby. Having checked the area carefully for any signs of civilians who might be placed at risk, the Reaper’s crew then conducted a successful attack with a Hellfire missile, which destroyed the outbuilding and its occupants.

Tornado GR4s, flying from RAF Akrotiri and, as ever, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew an armed reconnaissance mission over the Euphrates on Thursday 28 December. Their attention was directed to a Daesh defensive position, consisting of two buildings surrounded by earthworks, at a remote spot north-east of Abu Kamal, close to the border with Iraq. Our aircraft demolished both of the buildings with a pair of Paveway IVs. Two flights of Tornados flew close air support for the Syrian Democratic Forces the following day, despite difficult weather conditions; one flight employed a Paveway IV to destroy a building from which fire was being directed at close range against the SDF, whilst the second pair of Tornados engaged through cloud a group of terrorists engaged in street fighting; a Paveway removed the threat to the SDF.

On Saturday 6 January, two Typhoons conducted a night attack on an isolated building some seven miles north-east of Abu Kamal, used as accommodation by Daesh extremists, including local commanders. A pair of Paveway IVs destroyed the target. Sunday 7 January saw a Reaper once again working with coalition fast jets over the Euphrates, in support of the SDF. The Reaper observed a group of terrorists assembling under a tree, around twenty miles south-east of Mayadin, allowing a prompt and effective strike by another coalition aircraft, then delivered a further attack using one of its own Hellfire missiles. Following the defeat of Daesh in Iraq, coalition aircraft have remained on-call to support the Iraqi security forces as necessary to prevent any attempts by the terrorists to mount further operations in the country, and on Sunday a Typhoon flight was tasked to deal with a group of extremists who had been tracked to a cave some twelve miles north-east of Bayji. A direct hit was achieved with a Paveway IV, killing several terrorists in and around the cave entrance.

UK contribution to the fight against Daesh

Map of UK forces committed to Operation Shader
Map of UK forces committed to Operation Shader

Campaign against Daesh

Map of Daesh losses and gains in Iraq and Syria since September 2014
Map of Daesh losses and gains in Iraq and Syria since September 2014

Previous update

Friday 1 December: A Reaper worked very closely with two flights of coalition aircraft, some fifteen miles north-west of Abu Kamal. The Reaper supported seven attacks by the coalition jets against several groups of terrorists, an armed truck and a Daesh-held building, and conducted three attacks with its own Hellfire missiles, which killed a number of extremists spotted both in defensive positions and in the open.

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

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

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

Details of previous airstrikes can be found here.

For more information see Daesh: UK government response page on GOV.UK