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British air strike backs Kurdish advance

A further strike by RAF Tornados against Islamic State (IS) forces, the fourth since the upgraded British mission began on Tuesday, has been announced by the British Ministry of Defence.

The operation took place overnight, during a battle between Kurdish ground forces and IS fighters in north-west Iraq. “Two GR4s provided vital air support to Peshmerga forces advancing on an ISIL position, conducting a successful precision attack on an armed pick-up truck with a Paveway IV guided bomb,” said the ministry statement.

A spokesman said: “Overnight, two GR4s provided vital air support to Peshmerga forces advancing on an ISIL position, conducting a successful precision attack on an armed pick-up truck with a Paveway IV guided bomb.”

UK forces are reported to have been involved in a battle in the key Iraq-Syria border town of Rabia, where 20-30 fighters from IS – also known as Isil or Isis – were making a last stand in a hospital.

A Daily Telegraph journalist witnessed Tornados strike the building at around 4pm local time.

The pilots – including a woman – were said to have been in direct contact with the Kurdish commanders on the ground.

The RAF began hitting IS targets on Tuesday, four days after Parliament authorised UK involvement in the international military campaign and five days since the Tornados were first launched last Saturday.

Tornados have been deploying Brimstone missiles and Paveway bombs against vehicle and fixed weapons positions, mainly in support of Kurdish forces in the north west.

That strikes are apparently taking place so close to the border could fuel calls for the British operation to be extended into Syria – a move which ministers have said would require a further vote in the House of Commons.

 

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