RAF Combat Missions Will Continue 'For Some Time' Says Officer In Charge Of Air War Against IS

Air Commodore Justin Reuter has been speaking to Forces News about the RAF contribution in the battle against so-called Islamic State.

As US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces continue their assault against the last stronghold held by so-called Islamic State in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the officer in charge of the UK’s air campaign has been speaking to Forces News about the role the RAF has been playing.

Air Commodore Justin Reuter believes the RAF will be involved in combat missions in the region for some time to come.

He said the role of the air force will be to continue helping local governments to defeat Daesh (Islamic State).

“We’ve seen Daesh fighters move from Syria into Iraq. And we’ve seen them operating as a form of insurgency.”

RAF aircrew gather after the final Tornado missions in February.

The Tornado has been the key aircraft for the RAF in Operation Shader until it flew it's final mission in February and replaced with the Typhoon.

Air Cdre Reuter said the removal of Tornado was at the “right time” because there isn’t the need for the “same weight of combat power.”

“There is still a need for combat aircraft like Typhoon that can deliver precision strike.”

Air Cdre Reuter also spoke about the role of the Brimstone missile which he said had been used nearly 400 times during the four years of the campaign.

“It was the low collateral and precise capability that Brimstone brings which is really, really useful.”

RAF Typhoons arrive in Oman ahead of an exercise
RAF Typhoons arrive in Oman ahead of an exercise (Picture MOD).

Air Cdre Reuter also responded to allegations of a ‘credibility gap’ following a recent report on the number of IS casualties the RAF said it had killed.

The report released by the Ministry of Defence, in response to a freedom of information request, said the RAF had killed just one civilian among more than 4,000 enemy fighters in its air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

He said:

"This is probably the most transparent campaign that's ever been conducted. It's also one of the most precise campaigns that's ever been conducted."

He said the figures "are as precise as we possibly can" but he also acknowledged that it is possible that others could have been killed or injured because the Daesh tactic of mingling with civilian populations and using human shields.