The number 617 Squadron of the UK’s Royal Air Force, widely renowned as the “Dambusters,” will join an international military coalition in Iraq and Syria to conduct anti-terrorist operations, Sky News reported on Monday.
The squadron will deploy US-built F-35B Lightning stealth jets to participate in Operation Shader from the carrier strike group as "violent extremism and the toxic ideology underpinning it is still rooted" in the region, according to Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston.
"We're going to conduct operations in support of the government of Iraq, fighting the remnants of Daesh in Iraq and Syria - and continuing to take the fight to them in their sanctuary where otherwise they would be threatening the streets of the United Kingdom and our allies,” he said.
According to Wigston, the operations are “something that air power has been doing very effectively now since 2014 and the Royal Air Force has played a considerable part in that success.” He explained that the extremist organization “is no longer the ground-holding force,” that held wide areas under its control throughout 2015 and 2016.
"For the last two years we have been identifying pockets where they have dug in to strongholds in the mountains in remote areas, and have been helping the government of Iraq to clear out those remnants."
The minister for the armed forces, James Heappey, noted that the multi-role fifth-generation fighter aircraft, provided with advanced technologies that enable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, “will pack a potent punch against Daesh and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq.”
Last month Britain announced that it had performed a number of air strikes in March in northern Iraq against jihadists who were reportedly dislocated in the Makhmur mountains, southwest of Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdistan administrative center.
Despite Iraq announcing a victory over Daesh at the end of 2017, local military forces, jointly with US-led forces, continue military operations.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia and many other states