UK to extend ISR commitment to Coalition operations in Iraq and Syria
The UK has set out plans to extend its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) commitment to coalition operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in Iraq and Syria.
As part of its plans, the country has agreed to extend deployment of the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Sentinel R1 long-range wide area battlefield surveillance aircraft until 2016.
Designed to identify and track multiple targets over great distances, Sentinel flew three missions a week, providing critical information that enables British and coalition forces to hit ISIL targets on the ground.
Britain has successfully completed one year in supporting counter-ISIL operations in Iraq.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "The fight against ISIL is our top operational priority and Britain is playing a vital role. Our armed forces have conducted more than 300 strikes, flown almost a third of all coalition surveillance flights and trained over 2,000 local troops.
"In 2014 ISIL enjoyed near total freedom of movement across much of Iraq but we've helped stop the jihadist advance, reclaiming a quarter of ISIL-held territory.
"Now we must build on this progress.
"We will not let up until we have defeated this barbaric terrorist organisation."
In September 2014, the UK joined a 62 nation Global Coalition comprising of international partners including nations from the Middle East, to help degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.
Approximately 800 UK personnel including the Coalition Deputy Commander are supporting the Iraqi Government in their fight against ISIL terrorists.
Apart from Sentinel, the RAF has also operated Tornados and Reaper equipped with precision munitions, Brimstone and Hellfire missiles and Paveway IV bombs, to conduct more than 300 successful strikes against the insurgents.
The UK soldiers have trained nearly 2000 Iraqi personnel in a counter-improvised explosive device programme, and the country has also donated half a million rounds of ammunition, numerous weapons, 1000 IED detectors and more than 50t of non-lethal support.
Support provided by the coalition is said to have enabled the Iraqi forces to regain 25% of their territory from ISIL.
Image: Sentinel R1 is claimed to be the RAF's only long-range wide area battlefield surveillance aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Ministry of Defence / © Crown copyright.