Unmanned British aircraft carry out strikes on 85-mile underground ISIS cave

Unmanned RAF aircraft carried out two strikes on ISIS positions in Northern Iraq last month, one of which is believed to be an 85-mile network of underground caves, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

In the first strike, with took place on Thursday August 20, an RAF Reaper struck a Daesh command post in a cave in northern Iraq.

The RAF's website states that its Reaper MQ-9A is a remotely piloted medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) aircraft designed for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), and attack missions.

A three-person crew operates Reaper, working from a remote ground control station.

A statement from the Ministry of Defence said: "As part of the UK’s contribution to the Global Coalition in the fight against Daesh, the Royal Air Force continues to fly daily missions against the terrorist movement in Syria and Iraq.

"Our aircraft conduct strikes on terrorist targets when required.

Intelligence analysis confirmed that a Daesh leadership group had established a cave network 85 miles west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

"An RAF Reaper kept a close watch on the location during the early hours of Thursday August 20. When terrorists were identified at the cave entrance, the Reaper’s crew conducted an attack with a single Hellfire missile, having first swept the area for any signs of civilians who might be placed at risk.

"The missile struck the target accurately, and the blast was observed to emerge from another part of the cave network, indicating that weapon’s effect had reached deep inside the caves."

In a second mission, an RAF Reaper attacked a second Daesh position and provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike in northern Iraq on Wednesday August 26.

The statement added: "An RAF Reaper maintained surveillance on another set of caves in the area on Wednesday August 26, which confirmed the presence of a number of Daesh extremists at the site.

"When terrorists were observed at the mouth of one of the caves, the Reaper’s crew engaged successfully with a Hellfire missile, then provided surveillance support to a follow-up attack by two coalition fast jets which struck the rest of the Daesh position."

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