Isis in Iraq: RAF Reaper drone carries out first strike against militants in spot where British suicide bomber killed eight last week

The MoD said Isis fighters were laying roadside bombs north of Baghdad

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The Independent Online

RAF Reapers have carried out their first drone attacks in the war against Isis with air strikes in an Iraqi town where a British jihadist carried out a suicide attack three days ago. Large numbers of foreign fighters including, it is believed, other Britons, have also gathered there.

Iraqi forces have been carrying out an offensive in an attempt to recapture Baiji, where the country’s largest refinery is located, for the last week.

On Friday Kabir Ahmed from Derby blew himself up killing eight people, including police officer Lieutenant General Faisal Malik al-Zamel.

The Reaper targeted Isis fighters planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the outskirts of the town on roads being used by government forces to take control of al-Tamim district.

“The Reaper RPAS, using procedures identical to those of manned aircraft, successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said.

“UK Reaper continued to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to coalition aircraft which enabled them to conduct further strikes.”

The Independent revealed last month that the Reapers have been readied for action in Syria as well as Iraq.

More moderate Islamist groups have reported that foreign fighters have been concentrating recently in Kobani,  which the Islamists are trying to take over, and Baiji, which has key commercial and strategic value. Isis is estimated to make $2m a day from the sale of oil from captured facilities.

It was captured by Isis during their advance in June and contains the country’s biggest oil refinery.

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In another strike on Sunday morning, two RAF Tornados sent to investigate Isis movements in Anbar province destroyed a shipping container used to store equipment with a Brimstone missile.

The store was being used to “support extortion and control of the local population”, the MoD said.

Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, announced that the UK was increasing its training for Iraqi and Kurdish forces last week.

During a visit to Iraq on Wednesday, he said counter-IED training would be provided along with instruction on using heavy machine guns sent to Peshmerga fighters by Britain, shooting and first aid.

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Britain operates a fleet of several Reaper MQ-9 drones

“The Government remains clear that no ground combat troops will be deployed to Iraq,” an MoD spokesperson said.

Barack Obama has also pledged a further 1,500 US troops to carry out training operations in Iraq.

Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State, is fighting to establish a hardline caliphate straddling Iraq and Syria.

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