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    British RAF 'Success' in Syria and Iraq Against Daesh Thrown Into Doubt

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    Claims by UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon that British Royal Air Force (RAF) sorties and airstrikes against Daesh, also known as ISIL, over Syria have made "a fairly impressive start" have been called into question.

    Following the decision by UK lawmakers to extend its airstrikes from Iraq into Syria as well, Fallon said: "We've already had some successful strikes on the infrastructure that supports Isil-Daesh (IS) from which it derives its revenue and from which, of course, it's been financing terrorist attacks in western Europe."

    He said the coalition of forces bombing Daesh had needed the specific support of the RAF, which can fire the fire-and-forget the Brimstone missile, which is capable of hitting moving targets and reducing the risk of civilian casualties.

    "Where the RAF has come in specifically has been to add that precision strike — and I think we'll see more of that in the next days and weeks on depots, on logistics, on command and control headquarters, on the supply routes that run from Syria eastwards into Iraq itself," said Fallon.

    The Brimstone missile is built by MBDA, which is owned by the UK's BAe Systems, the pan-European Airbus Group and Italy's Finmeccanica. It is described by the manufacturer as the "most accurate precision strike product on the market, combat proven in Afghanistan and Libya by the UK Royal Air Force."

    Only the RAF and the Royal Saudi Air Force deploy Brimstone and the coalition was keen to use its capability in Syria. The RAF also fires Paveway IV missiles, which are laser-guided but generally less-accurate than the Brimstone.

    Oil Targets

    In its latest briefing, the RAF said it had "employed Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes against six targets within the extensive oilfield at Omar, 35 miles inside Syria's eastern border with Iraq. The Omar oilfield is one of the largest and most important to Daesh's financial operations, and represents over 10% of their potential income from oil.

    "Carefully selected elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted, ensuring the strikes will have a significant impact on Daesh's ability to extract the oil to fund their terrorism."

    However, in the first week of attacks by the RAF over Syria, since lawmakers sanctioned the airstrikes  — described by Fallon as striking "a very real blow at the oil and the revenue on which the Daesh terrorists depend" — was not what it seemed. 

    But, according to US military spokesman, Major Michael Filanowski — briefing reporters in October — the Omar oil field was blitzed, heavily damaging the lucrative funding source for Daesh in a large US raid on October 21.

    According to former BBC defense correspondent Andrew Gillighan — writing in Friday's Daily Telegraph — "Even by Britain's ignoble standards of hype over military action, the claims from both sides, being made about our bombing in Syria, are embarrassing, delusional — and perhaps even dangerous."

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    Tags:
    Syria campaign, airstrikes, bombing campaign, missiles, Syrian conflict, military, Daesh, British Army, UK Ministry of Defence, Michael Fallon, Syria, United Kingdom
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