RAF drones blast nearly 1,500 Islamic State fighters in the past eight years in hundreds of missions over Iraq and Syria

RAF drones blast nearly 1,500 Islamic State fighters in the past eight years in hundreds of missions over Iraq and Syria

Shafaq News/ British drones have killed or injured almost 1,500 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria since 2014, figures out today have revealed.

The RAF's MQ-9 Reaper aircraft have flown 4,857 sorties in the region in the past eight years.

These resulted in an estimated 1,413 enemy targets being hit, a freedom of information request made by The Sun on Sunday has revealed.

The aircraft are fitted with 500lb laser-guided bombs and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.

The MQ-9s are unmanned aerial vehicles piloted by crews at Lincolnshire's RAF Waddington and in the US, and have flown hundreds of missions over the region since 2014.

The figures are estimates by experts who study drone mission reports and aerial shots of the debris.

The number of enemies hit in Iraq has fallen substantially since a high of 476 in 2016 - a year in which IS was reported to be the deadliest militant organisation in the world.

There were no hits in Iraq in 2021 and none in Syria in 2020, according to the data.

According to the United Nations, there are still around 10,000 IS fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The Iraqi government declared victory over IS in 2019 after three years of fighting.

US-backed Syrian forces declared victory over the IS in March 2019.

The militant group continues to wage terror attacks in both countries and around the world.

In a 2015 strike on Raqqa, Syria, British forces killed Reyaad Khan, a 21-year-old from Cardiff who had featured in an ISIS recruitment drive video.

The attack was a joint operation with the US and took out two other British fighters, Ruhul Amin, 26, and Junaid Hussain, 21.

Another prominent Briton in the ISIS terror group, known as Jihadi John, was killed in Syria in the same year.

The terrorist, 27, whose real name was Mohammed Emwazi, beheaded captives in videos released by IS in 2014 and 2015.

Sally Jones, who was known as The White Widow after she left her home in Kent to join ISIS, was killed in a 2017 strike.

New 'Protector' drones are expected to come into service in 2024, with the first delivery to the RAF next year.

On a visit last year to RAF Waddington, where the fleet of drones will soon be based, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Protector aircraft could be deployed in Afghanistan if the Taliban allow terrorists to operate there.

Mr Wallace also said during the visit that he feared the 'reservoir' of potential extremists was probably deeper than before the September 11 attacks.

Source: Daily Mail

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