Saturday 7 December 2019

British drones attack IS militants in Iraq

A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad
A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad

Kate Ferguson

British forces conducted their first drone attacks on Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq over the weekend, the Ministry of Defence has said.

A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad, where IS extremists were planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The MoD said an unmanned aircraft known as a Royal Air Force Reaper "successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile".

On Sunday morning, an RAF aircraft also destroyed a shipping container near Al Anbar, west of Baghdad.

The MoD said the container was "used by the terrorists to store equipment to support extortion and control of the local population".

The strike comes after Britain announced it is stepping up its military presence in Iraq, where it is helping local forces in the battle against IS militants.

The jihadists, who are also known as ISIL and ISIS, control large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria where they are waging war with the aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate.

The Reaper drones are also being used to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to help manned aircrafts conducting further strikes.

Reapers are remotely controlled by pilots based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

They carry high-tech sensors which allow them to spy on insurgent activity for hours at a time and at a range where they are undetectable from the ground.

The MoD said: "A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad, where ISIL terrorists were laying improvised explosive devices.

"The Reaper RPAS, using procedures identical to those of manned aircraft, successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile.

"UK Reaper continued to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to coalition aircraft which enabled them to conduct further strikes."

More details about the extent of Britain's airstrikes against the jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria have also been released.

The MoD said that last week RAF Tornado GR4s used Brimstone precision guided missiles to destroy IS armed pick-up trucks.

While other RAF aircraft, including tankers, transport and surveillance platforms also continue to support coalition air operations.

PA Media

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