RAF air strikes have killed more than 3,000 Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria, according to official statistics.

Operation Shader, the name for Britain's fight against the militant group, has seen the RAF flying at its highest tempo for 25 years.

More than fifteen hundred airstrikes have been launched, which is a number second only to America.

Britain is a key player in this evolving battle.

A British Typhoon takes on fuel from a US Air Force tanker
A British Typhoon takes on fuel from a US Air Force tanker

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said its records showed "no credible evidence" that civilians had been killed in RAF air strikes but admitted: "That isn't the same as saying we have not or will not do so."

Figures to the end of July obtained by the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws show an estimated 2,684 fighters were killed in Iraq since the bombing began nearly three years ago, with 410 dead in Syria since the start of operations there in December 2015.

The United States central command of the global bombing campaign against IS admitted in June to 484 civilian deaths as a result of coalition strikes to the end of April.

However, monitoring groups though put the figure far higher at closer to 4000.

Al Udeid Air Base
Combined Air Operations Centre, Al Udeid Air Base

The air war is directed from a Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) inside the huge Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar - the largest US station in the region.

This air base also has one of the longest runways in the Middle East which is used by the more than one hundred aircraft - including a number of B-52 Stratofortress.

B-52 Stratofortress at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar
B-52 Stratofortress at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar

The B-52 Stratofortress was introduced in 1955 and designed as a Cold War bomber.

Each can carry around 32000 kilos precision-guided weapons and fly for more than eight thousand miles without refuelling.

Laser guided weapons on a B-52 Stratofortress
Laser guided weapons on a B-52 Stratofortress

With these B-52 Stratofortresses, British Tornados and Typhoons and Russian Su-27 the skies over Iraq and Syria are very congested. 

It's something which can complicate life at Al Udeid, as Russian aircraft operate from the base as well. 

It is a subject which Air Cdre Johnny Stringer, the UK air component commander at Al Udeid is extremely focused on.

"That works to the level it needs to to make sure that our operational safety isn't impacted."

British military stationed at Al Udeid are sure to not forget the conflicts of the past and marked the anniversary of the Battle of Britain in a sunset ceremony and while the theatre may be very different the RAF is again at the centre of a crucial air war.

Sunset Ceremony Al Udeid Air base marking Battle of Britain

Topics: