Posted on March 13, 2019
Air Commodore Justin Reuter says the area they occupy is around two kilometres and is surrounded by cliffs, the Euphrates river and troops of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are looking to recapture the last IS enclave. The RAF officer in charge of the UK air campaign believes the battle will be fraught with difficulty.
“It will look very much like a camp but there are tunnels in there. There are Daesh fighters mixed in with their families. Women and children. Non-combatants and combatants in a very small area.” He also warned the Syrian troops will face IS fighters that are prepared to fight to the death. “Some of these fighters are equipped with suicide vests. With vehicle-borne IEDs (Improvised explosive devices) and some of them have sworn to fight to the very, very bitter end”. With the Tornado now retired, the Typhoon is leading the UK’s air campaign on IS. Six are based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, with four of them flying missions on most days.
Air Commodore Reuter suggested air strikes against IS fighters in the enclave will be difficult as the area will contain families, prisoners and civilians. “We know that Daesh have captured not just SDF but also tribesmen who live in that area as well and taken them hostage.” The capture of Baghuz would be a milestone in the devastating four-year campaign to defeat IS’s so-called caliphate, which once covered a vast territory straddling Syria and Iraq.