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The New Arab

UK to withdraw RAF fighter jets operating in Syria

The RAF have carried out strikes in Syria and Iraq [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2019

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The UK is reducing its air fleet in Iraq, which has been used in air strikes in Syria.
The UK will half its air fleet in Iraq, which have been used to carry out air strikes on Islamic State group positions in Syria, media reported on Monday.

Eight RAF Tornados will be brought back to the UK in February, leaving six Typhoon strike aircraft and ten Reaper drones left in Iraq, to operate against IS, according to the Daily Mail.

The news comes one month after President Donald Trump announced that the US would be withdrawing its military force in Syria, a big blow for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces which is leading the ground war against IS.

The move has been sharply criticised by security analysts and inside Trump's administration, who have argued that Washington's Kurdish allies would be left at the mercy of a Turkish assault.

Although IS is close to being defeated on the battlefield, the militants remain a major threat to security in Iraq and Syria, carrying out bomb attacks and shootings on civilian and military targets - including an attack last week which left four US soldiers dead.

The UK plays a lead role in the US-led coalition against IS, known as Inherent Resolve, and has seen the group's self-declared state in Iraq and Syria reduced to a small patchwork of territory in eastern Syria.

After carrying out strikes in Iraq, parliament in 2015 approved the expansion of the RAF's air campaign to Syria, where IS held territories in the north and east of the country.

In October, the RAF said it would ramping up drone strikes against IS in eastern Syria with the near defeat of the group.

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