Despite being illegal according to legal scholars,air strikes have begun against targets in Syria, with the support of Labour MPs acting against a resolution of their own party conference. On this page we’ll keep a log of the unlawful RAF airstrikes on Syria.
Page updated: 19/04/2016
Includes MoD 19 April 2016 10:44am operational update
Includes RAF strikes on Syria up to and including 17 April 2016
Unlawful piloted airstrikes: 19. (Al Omar oil field, 4; Raqqa environs, 6; Al Hasakah, 1; Tabbaqah,1; Al Hawl, 3; Abu Kamal, 2; As Shadadi, 1; Manbij, 1)
Unlawful unpiloted strikes: 15 (Al Omar oil field, 1; Raqqa environs, 7; “Syria border”, 1; Al Hawl, 1; Al Tabqa,1; Al Busayrah, 1; “Eastern Syria” 1, Tell Dehlis, 1, As Shadadi, 1)
Log of air strikes* on Syria by the RAF – (as part of “Operation Shader”) – since 3rd December 2015
(*see note 5 below for definition)
1. Thursday 3rd December 2015 Al Omar oil field
“Supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker and a Reaper, and operating in conjunction with other coalition aircraft, the Tornados employed Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes against six targets on an oilfield at Omar” MoD Source
The Omar oil field had already been put out of action according to the US military.
2. Friday 4th December 2015 (evening) Al Omar oil field
Tornado GR4s and Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri made “eight attacks” “on targets in the very large Daesh-controlled oilfield at Omar.” “Paveway IV guided bombs to hit wellheads, thus cutting off the terrorists’ oil revenue at the very source.”
Without spelling it out, the MoD seem to be suggesting the US and Russia did not finish the job properly before, as Centcom had announced.
Video footage of one of these attacks:
3. Sunday 6th December 2015 (evening) Al Omar oil field
“RAF Tornado GR4s carried out a further UK mission against additional wellheads in the extensive and sprawling Omar oil field on the evening of Sunday 6 December. They joined other coalition aircraft in a carefully coordinated strike against the oil infrastructure upon which Daesh relies for much of their revenue to fund their barbaric activities. The GR4s conducted successful attacks using Paveway IV guided bombs. The Tornados then joined Typhoon FGR4s, also flying from RAF Akrotiri, in conducting armed reconnaissance to investigate possible further terrorist targets.” (MoD 9 December 2015 10:55am operational update)
(see note 2 below for controversy over Syrian base allegedly hit on this day)
4. 25 December 2015, south of Raqqa
“Meanwhile, over Syria, an RAF Reaper struck a Daesh checkpoint south of Raqqa with a Hellfire missile.” (Reported by MoD 28/12/2015)
A Huffington Post UK Freedom of Information request revealed 1 Daesh member was killed or wounded in this attack.
According to CENTCOM; “Near Ar Raqqah, one strike wounded an ISIL fighter.”
5. 25 December 2015, al Tabqa
A Huffington Post UK Freedom of Information request (published 18/02/2016) revealed this previously unreported Hellfire strike on Tabqa which killed or wounded two Daesh members. (Source Huffington Post & Daily Telegraph)
Strangely this strike was not mentioned by the MoD at the time, nor does it appear on either of CENTCOM’s press releases covering that day.
6. Sunday 10 January 2016 Near Raqqa
From MoD 11 January 2016 11.45 am operational update: On Sunday 10 January, the focus turned to a series of targets inside Syria. Near Raqqa, a pair of Tornados bombed a pair of Daesh-held buildings, one of which was a confirmed command and control centre, and used a Brimstone missile to destroy a supply truck. A second pair of GR4s dropped four Paveway IVs on a tunnel complex, again near Raqqa, whilst a Reaper engaged a terrorist position with a Hellfire missile.
7.Sunday 10 January 2016 (evening) Al Omar oil field
From MoD 11 January 2016 11.45 am operational update: During the evening, a further Tornado flight and a Reaper used a combination of Brimstone and Hellfire missiles to attack a number of mobile cranes brought in by Daesh to attempt to repair the severe damage inflicted by previous RAF and coalition air strikes on the Omar oil field.
Video footage of one of these attacks:
According to a report in The Guardian three Brimstone missiles were used in this strike.
8. Monday 11 January 2016, Al Busayrah
“a Reaper identified a terrorist check point – one of the methods used by Daesh to attempt to impose their will on the civilian population – and successfully attacked it using a Hellfire missile.” (Reported by MoD 13 January 2016 1:58pm operational update) No location was provided.
For 11 January CENTCOM report (Release # 20160112-01) “coalition military forces conducted four strikes using attack and remotely piloted aircraft.”
The locations they specify are:
“* Near Ayn Isa, one strike wounded an ISIL fighter.
* Near Dayr Az Zawr, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and wounded an ISIL fighter.
* Near Manbij, two strikes destroyed two ISIL buildings.”
A Huffington Post UK Freedom of Information request revealed 2 Daesh members were killed or wounded in this attack and named the location as Al Busayrah which is 27km South East of Deir Az Zur.
9. Tuesday 12 January 2016, Al Hasakah
“In north-eastern Syria, Tornado GR4s meanwhile patrolled in the area of Al Hasakah, where they used Paveway IVs to strike two Daesh-held strongpoints.” (MoD 13 January 2016 1:58 pm operational update)
10. Tuesday 12 January 2016, “eastern Syria”
“Reapers maintained surveillance over the oilfields in eastern Syria which have been targeted by coalition air strikes, including by the RAF, to deny Daesh the ability to use the oil to finance their operations. The Reapers identified a mechanical excavator which was being used to attempt repairs, and an oil pump which had evidently been brought back on line, and destroyed both with Hellfire missiles.” (Reported by MoD 13 January 2016 1:58pm operational update)
11. Friday 15 January 2016, near Raqqa
“Tornado GR4s struck a Daesh barracks near Raqqa, with two Paveway IVs, also destroying one of their vehicles parked close by.” (MoD 18 January 2016 10:30 am operational update)
12.Sunday 17 January 2016, Tabbaqah
“GR4s conducted two successful attacks with Brimstone missiles on Sunday 17 January, destroying a vehicle near Tabbaqah, west of Raqqa, in Syria and a terrorist supply truck south of Sinjar in Iraq.” (MoD 18 January 2016 10:30 am operational update)
Map showing location of Tabbaqah (aka as Al Tabqah)
13. Sunday 24 January 2016, Raqqa environs
“Meanwhile in Syria, Tornados used Brimstone missiles to successfully attack three mobile cranes, being used by Daesh to repair damage from coalition air strikes.” (MoD 27 January 2016 11:49 am operational update)
MoD video shows three missiles fired:
CENTCOM announced on 25 January that on 24th January “Near Ar Raqqah, one strike destroyed three ISIL cranes and damaged a fourth ISIL crane.”
14. Monday 25 January 2016, south-west of Raqqa
“Monday 25 January saw a further two cranes destroyed by Brimstones, south-west of Raqqa, whilst a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft hit a Daesh position with a Hellfire missile, just on the Syrian side of the border.” (MoD 27 January 2016 11:49 am operational update)
15) Monday 25 January 2016, “Syrian border”
“a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft hit a Daesh position with a Hellfire missile, just on the Syrian side of the border.” (MoD 27 January 2016 11:49 am operational update)
On 26th January CENTCOM announced strikes (including by remotely piloted aircraft) on 25 January including “Near Al Hawl, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit” and “Near Mar’a, one strike struck an ISIL headquarters building.”
Al Hawl ( الهول ) is near the Syria / Iraq border (map) and Mar’a is near the Syria / Turkey border so it is not certain which of these was the declared RAF strike.
According to a French TV report of 17/01/2016 Al Hawl was liberated from ISIS forces by the Kurds after 10 days fighting with support from US air strikes. Wikipedia shows Al Hawl town (13/11/2015) and nearby oil field (16/11/2015) having been captured by the SDF.
ISIS launched attacks on the town on Sunday 24 January according to Millet Press.
The apparent success of ISIS in operations near Al Hawl may explain the MoD’s failure to identify the location of this strike.
16. Tuesday 26 January 2016, south-west of Raqqa
“Meanwhile in Syria, Tornados used six Brimstones to attack mobile cranes south-west of Raqqa, highly valued by Daesh when attempting to repair damage inflicted by air strikes.” (MoD 29 January 2016 4:24pm operational update on new Daesh page)
17, Friday 29 January 2016, Al Hawl
“Across the border in Syria, two pairs of Tornados worked in close cooperation with an RAF Reaper to target a group of Daesh defensive positions and a large tunnel complex with several entrances. The Tornados dropped eight Paveways on the defensive positions and two tunnel entrances, while the Reaper conducted an attack on a third tunnel with its own GBU-12 guided bomb.” MoD 2 February 2016 10:43am operational update.
This strike correlates with CENTCOM update regarding 29 January: “Near Al Hawl, three strikes destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, destroyed an ISIL tunnel system, and damaged a separate ISIL fighting position.”
Again the UK MoD fail to specify the location Al Hawl which is an area that has been recaptured by Daesh.
18. Sunday 31 January 2016, Al Hawl
“A pair of Typhoons also patrolled over eastern Syria, where they employed Paveways to destroy two large clusters of defensive positions.” MoD 2 February 2016 10:43am operational update” MoD 2 February 2016 10:43am operational update
This strike correlates to CENTCOM update regarding 31 January: “Near Al Hawl, one strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL tunnel systems.”
Again the UK MoD fail to specify the location Al Hawl which is an area that has been recaptured by Daesh.
19. Monday 15 February 2016, Abu Kamal
“Meanwhile, RAF Typhoons alongside other coalition aircraft conducted a series of coordinated attacks on Daesh facilities. The targets included a large weapons store at Abu Kamal, on the Syrian bank of the Euphrates which was destroyed with four Paveway IVs. An RAF Reaper provided surveillance support to several of the other coalition attacks.” MoD 19 February 2016 10:10am operational update
Despite the incorrect labeling by Defence Headquarters (who say “On Monday 15 February, two Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol over northern Iraq in support of Kurdish security forces. A Paveway was used to attack a weapons cache.” this video shows this strike:
HRI has geolocated the building and confirm it is in Abu Kamal, Syria, not northern Iraq:
This was confirmed by a tweet from the official account of the International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve on 22 February:
20. Thursday 18th February 2016, north of Abu Kamal
“RAF Tornado GR4s and a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducted counter-Daesh missions over Syria on Thursday 18 February. North of Abu Kamal, a Tornado patrol used a pair of Brimstone missiles to strike a large engineering vehicle being used for wellhead repair and maintenance in a Daesh-controlled oilfield.” (MoD 23 February 2016 10:20am operational update)
Footage of this strike:
21. Thursday 18th February 2016, north-west of Raqqa
“Meanwhile, north-west of Raqqa, a Reaper worked closely with coalition jets to prosecute a group of Daesh extremists who were attacking members of the moderate Syrian armed opposition. The Reaper provided targeting and surveillance support to three successful coalition air attacks, then conducted a fourth attack using its own Hellfire missile.” (MoD 23 February 2016 10:20am operational update).
22. Friday 19th February 2016, north-west of Raqqa
“Over Syria, a Reaper and other coalition aircraft supported moderate Syrian opposition forces north-west of Raqqa; our Reaper assisted in one coalition air strike, then used a Hellfire to destroy an Daesh improvised armoured vehicle.”
23. Saturday 20th February 2016, north-west of Raqqa
“North-west of Raqqa, a Reaper tracked a Daesh machine-gun team that had been firing on Syrian opposition fighters. The terrorists retreated to a small building, where they were joined by other extremists. The Reaper then successfully attacked the group with a Hellfire missile.” (MoD 23 February 2016 10:20am operational update).
24. Thursday 25th February 2016, near As Shadadi
“In eastern Syria, a Tornado patrol supported Syrian Democratic Forces as they mounted an offensive against Daesh near As Shadadi; our aircraft destroyed a terrorist mortar position with a Paveway IV.” (MoD 1 March 2016 11:09am operational update)
CENTCOM describe “Near Al Hawl, eight strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL vehicles, an ISIL staging area, an ISIL tactical vehicle, and an ISIL mortar position.”
Al-Shaddadah or Al-Shaddadi (Arabic: الشدادي) was reported captured by Kurdish forces on 19th February 2016 (source) and video uploaded to YouTube on 25th February appears to show the town taken by the YPG and devoid of inhabitants:
(The MoD prefers to say it is supporting the “SDF” rather than the “YPG” which NATO ally Turkey calls a terrorist organisation)
25.Sunday 28th February 2016, Tell Dehlis
“Across the border in northern Syria, an RAF Reaper conducted five attacks with Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb against Daesh extremists, including an armed team in a truck, near Tell Dehlis.” (MoD 1 March 2016 11:09am operational update)
Shārat Tall Dihlīz is a hill in the extreme North East of Syria, to the east of Ain Issa عين عيسى
CENTCOM describe: “Near Ayn Isa, three strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed eight ISIL buildings, an ISIL fuel tanker, an ISIL tactical vehicle, and seven ISIL vehicles.”
Ayn Isa may be the location of a Kurdish (YPG) training camp with US trainers present.
26. Wednesday 2nd March, south-west of As Shadadi
“In eastern Syria, an RAF Reaper worked closely with other coalition aircraft to support Syrian Democratic Forces south-west of As Shadadi, as they followed up on their recent successes against Daesh in the region. A coalition surveillance aircraft identified a terrorist truck, armed with an anti-aircraft gun, concealed in an orchard, and passed the target to the Reaper for prosecution. A Hellfire missile scored a direct hit on the vehicle.” (MoD 7 March 2016 4:08pm operational update)
27. Monday 21st March, Ukayrishah
“Across the border in Syria, careful reconnaissance work had identified a major Daesh weapons storage facility at a site near Ukayrishah, south-east of Raqqa. This intelligence success allowed Tornado GR4s to conduct a very successful strike on Monday night, delivering eight Paveway IVs which destroyed the main warehouse and three support buildings.” (MoD 22 March 2016 1:15pm Operational update)
28. Tuesday 22nd March, Ukayrishah
“In eastern Syria, a Reaper used a Hellfire missile to demolish a Daesh storage building near Ukayrishah; the attack was very carefully planned in both timing and weapon choice to avoid causing any damage to a nearby school.” (MoD update)
29. Wednesday 23 March, near Al Hawl
“Across the border in eastern Syria, a Reaper used a Hellfire missile in a successful attack on a Daesh vehicle.” (MoD update)
Although MoD didn’t disclose the location CENTCOM report for 23 March: “Near Al Hawl, two strikes destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.”
30.Sunday 17 April, near Manbij
“Tornado armed reconnaissance patrol over northern Syria on Sunday 17 April bombed a Daesh large calibre mortar position near Manbij.” (MoD 19 April 2016 10:44am update)
On CENTCOM the mortars are described thus: “Near Manbij, two strikes destroyed two ISIL anti-air artillery pieces.”
— Notes —
Note 1: ISIS Oil trade
Some strong evidence ISIS oil has been exported onto world markets through Turkey is on this link
More background on the ISIS oil trade on the FT web site
Note 2: 6th December 2015 – The alleged coalition attacks on a Syrian army base near Deir ez Zor
7/12/2015 The Syrian Government protested after it claimed a coalition strike killed three military personnel and wounded 13 at Saeqa military camp near the town of Ayyash. There were also separate reports of a woman and her two children being killed in a coalition strike in Deir al Zor city overnight. The US denies the coalition bombed anywhere near the base and an anonymous official blamed the Russians, However, the Russian MoD says “Two pairs of warplanes from two other countries, members of the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition, were operating in the Deir ez-Zor area on the day of the attack,”
CENTCOM announced the following strikes;
* Near Al Hawl, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), and three ISIL vehicles.
* Near Dayr Ar Zawr, four strikes struck four ISIL oil well-heads.
* Near Mar’a, one strike damaged an ISIL artillery piece.
More detail from the Russian MoD:
Citing the data provided by the Syrian General Staff, MoD spokesman said that between 19:40 and 19:55 on December 6, 2015 aircraft of the Western coalition carried out a strike against the field camp of the 168th brigade of the 7th division of the Syrian government forces, located 2 kilometers west of the Deir ez-Zor airfield.
“As a result of the airstrikes, three infantry fighting vehicles and four cars equipped with large-caliber guns were destroyed, 12 people were injured and another four were killed. There weren’t any Russian aircraft over this area. We agree all of our flights in the skies above Syria with air control management and the General Staff of the Syrian government troops,” Konashenkov told journalists.
[Note – this new location is not near the town of Ayyash which is where initial reports indicated the incident happened)
A photo of a “rocket” with Western writing from the scene, published by LifeNews is of a Chinese mortar fuse. It therefore seems likely that ISIS fired off some mortars at the base and then attacked it, perhaps deliberately, perhaps fortuitously, as coalition planes flew overhead.
Note 3: Armed reconnaissance
MoD reports of armed reconnaissance patrols, which don’t include reports of bombing are recorded in this note.
1. Night of 3/4/12/2015 Whilst ISIS troops are reportedly advancing on the Turkish border in northern Syria towards Azaz to protect their lines of supply, the MoD informs us that “Two GR4s flew an armed reconnaissance patrol over eastern Syria, gathering intelligence on terrorist activity.”
2. “RAF Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s and Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have flown daily armed reconnaissance missions over both Syria and Iraq, collecting valuable intelligence on terrorist activity.” (11th December MoD update)
3. “The UK continues to hit Daesh hard as Royal Air Force fly intensive armed reconnaissance missions in Syria and Iraq.” (15th December MoD reports)
4. On Tuesday 15 December, two Tornado GR4s patrolled over eastern Syria and northern Iraq and conducted a successful attack with a Paveway IV laser and GPS guided bomb to destroy a terrorist mortar position near Sinjar. (This is a new report issued on at around 10am December 20th – Sinjar is in Iraq, of course).
5. “RAF Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper have flown intensive armed reconnaissance missions across Syria and Iraq” (MoD 4th January 2016 12:25am operational update)
6. “Throughout these missions, the Tornados and Typhoons were supported as is normal by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, whilst RAF Reaper and Sentinel continued to conduct invaluable surveillance missions against terrorist targets.” (MoD 18 January 2016 10:30 am operational update)
7. “British aircraft have continued intensive armed reconnaissance patrols over Syria and Iraq, striking a number of Daesh terrorist positions.” (MoD 29 January 2016)
8. “On Friday 29 January, Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager tanker, flew armed reconnaissance missions over north-east Syria and northern Iraq.” (MoD 2 February 2016 10:43am operational update)
9. RAF Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s and Reapers have continued to fly daily missions over Syria and Iraq. As well as gathering invaluable intelligence on terrorist activity, they have conducted a large number of successful air strikes on Daesh positions.(MoD 9 February 2016 update)
10. “Whilst the Typhoons and Tornados were providing direct close air support to the Iraqi ground forces, Reaper remotely piloted aircraft and Sentinel strategic surveillance aircraft conducted extensive reconnaissance missions across Daesh-held areas of Iraq and Syria to help gather the vital intelligence which allows coalition forces to conduct effective air strikes on the terrorists.” (MoD 15 February 2016 12:19pm operational update)
11. An RAF Reaper provided surveillance support to several of the other coalition attacks.” (MoD 19 February 2016 10:10am operational update)
12. “In addition to these strikes, the Tornados, Typhoons and Reapers undertook extensive reconnaissance activity, complemented by the strategic surveillance capabilities of the RAF’s Sentinel aircraft.” – unspecified as to whether Iraq and/or Syria (MoD 1 March 2016 11:09am operational update)
13. “RAF Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s and Reapers have flown daily armed reconnaissance missions over Syria and Iraq, conducting – in conjunction with Sentinel aircraft – extensive surveillance of suspected terrorist locations.” (MoD 11 March 2016 12:05pm)
14) Royal Air Force aircraft have continued flying daily armed reconnaissance missions across Syria and Iraq to help the coalition build an increasingly detailed intelligence picture of Daesh activities, and to strike terrorist targets identified. (MoD 8 April)
Note 4: About this list
Here on HRI we logged 415 air strikes made against the town of Sirte in Libya in 2011 – an operation which involved providing air support to rebels who massacred opponents and which have led to the town’s destruction – to the extent that it is now being controlled by ISIS.
During the Libya campaign, thanks to footage released by the Ministry of Defence, we are able to identify the bombing of crucial civilian infrastructure by the RAF, specifically the Great Man-Made River, as well as to match up NATO air strikes with killings of civilians including children.
It remains to be seen if the RAF has improved its targeting and tactics, whether during this campaign it will continue to ignore human rights concerns and, of course, whether it will again be used to support sectarian extremists and result in the destruction of another Arab state.
On 22 February 2016 the separate manned and unmanned strike sections in the list above were combined into one for clarity.
If you spot an error or omission please use our contact form.
Note 5. Definition of a strike
A strike may include one or more missiles / bombs reported against a single geographical area on the same day / in the same operational update.
This definition is determined by CENTCOM’s official definition: “A strike, as defined in the CJTF releases, means one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect for that location. So having a single aircraft deliver a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of buildings and vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making that facility (or facilities) harder or impossible to use. Accordingly, CJTF-OIR does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.”
Note 6. Media coverage
08 December 2015 Christian Today – Syrian President calls RAF strikes illegal
02 January 2016 The Daily Telegraph reports the RAF air-strikes are a non-event
11 January 2016 The Guardian reports on the first use of Brimstone missiles in Syria
20 January 2016 UK Defence Minister wants to step up strikes on IS (BBC)
26 January 2016 Middle East Eye article on “Brimstone missiles target the British public, not Islamic State.”
28 February 2016 Independent: UK launches just 33 successful air strikes in three months of Syria campaign
Note 7. Prior to Parliament authorisation
Reyaad Khan from Cardiff and Ruhul Amin from Aberdeen were killed on August 21 in a precision air strike carried out by an RAF drone it was announced by David Cameron in parliament in September 2015 (BBC)
Three RAF Pilots were embedded with the USAF and took part in attacks on Syria it was revealed in July 2015 (Morningstaronline)
Note 8. RAF assets and command responsibility
903EAW includes “Tornado GR4, Voyager, C130 Hercules, E3D Sentry, and Sentinel, in addition to support for the Tactical Imagery-Intelligence Wing (TIW). There are currently about 450 personnel deployed on 903 EAW in direct support of Operation SHADER, including 75 Station individual augmentees, to bolster Station interdependencies in direct support of the EAW.” (source)
According to Private Eye No 1410 22 Jan – 4 Feb 2016 the Brimstone missiles are carried by “the RAF’s 10 ageing Tornado GR4 aircraft based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.” “A fleet of six Typhoon aircraft make up the rest of the RAF’s strike commitment to the conflict. These, however, cannot carry Brimstone and their pilots have to rely instead on old-fashioned, laser-guided Paveway bombs, which are less accurate and cause more collateral damage.”
Note 9. Copyright
This website is in no way associated with, or endorsed by, GOV.UK.