RAF jets bomb Islamic State training base in Saddam's former palace
British jets have joined in air strikes on one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces in northern Iraq, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.
The former palace located close to the Tigris in Mosul was struck by a pair of RAF Tornados using the largest 2,000lb Paveway bombs in the UK arsenal, after it was identified as a training centre for the Islamic State groups.
The MoD said the strike was co-ordinated as part of a multinational attack on the headquarters and training centre for “foreign terrorist recruits”.
It said the extensive surveillance had shown the Islamic State (IS) was using the palace, which was looted in 2003 in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq, before the strike on Monday afternoon.
The Tornados attacked the complex, striking the headquarters building first, then a security centre, in what was rated as a successful attack, said RAF officers.
The UK's defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said: “Daesh [IS] has been losing followers and territory for months, and emphatic strikes like this show that we and the coalition will not waver.”
During a visit to RAF Akrotiri, from where UK jets aircraft have been flying daily missions against IS in Iraq and Syria, Fallon announced that additional UK troops would deploy to Iraq to support the campaign against IS later this month.
Following the recapture of Fallujah by Iraqi government forces last month, Mosul is seen as the last major IS stronghold in Iraq.
Iraqi and Kurdish military and paramilitary units are currently thought to be preparing for a push on Mosul in the coming weeks and months. “The idea is to isolate Mosul, cut it off, kill it,” a senior US officer told Politico on Monday.
Military officers say the city, which has been controlled by IS since June 2014, will be surrounded by a pincer movement of Iraqi forces from the southeast and Kurdish units from the northwest. The offensive, Politico reported, is set to start in early October.