London: British airstrikes are thought to have killed Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in Syria for the first time since the UK began bombing the dreaded terror outfit’s strongholds targeting oil fields four weeks ago.
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Reaper drone destroyed one of the terror group’s checkpoints near its stronghold of Raqqa using a Hellfire missile on Christmas Day.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) report on the strike did not record any casualties but ‘The Independent’ reports that the post was occupied at the time, so ISIS casualties would be inevitable.
Britain had previously targeted only ISIS-controlled oilfields in Syria, as part of a strategy by the US-led coalition codenamed ‘Operation Tidal Wave II’.
Oil, believed to be the terrorist group’s largest source of income, became a target of operations during the past month as an American military spokesman vowed to “shut it all down”.
An MoD spokesperson said: “Armed reconnaissance missions have been flown daily by RAF Tornado GR4, Typhoon FGR4, and Reaper aircraft, focussing on supporting the Iraqi security forces during their offensive operations in Ramadi, and also in northern Iraq in the area around Mosul.
“Although on every occasion Iraqi forces were in very close proximity to the terrorist targets, careful planning and the accuracy of the weapons allowed all attacks to be a success.”
The UK’s airstrikes in Iraq, which started in September, 2014 following requests for help from the Iraqi government, have killed an unknown number of ISIS militants while supporting Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the ground.
Much of the activity in recent weeks has focussed on the Battlefor Ramadi, a key city that was re-taken on Sunday.