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The New Arab Staff

Famed UK 'Dambusters' squadron deployed to fight 'IS remnants' in Syria and Iraq

The F-35B jets will travel on HMS Queen Elizabeth [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2021

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RAF 617 Squadron is en route to conduct missions over Syria and Iraq, which will target Islamic State group militants.
The famed British Royal Air Force (RAF) "Dambusters" squadron has been deployed for combat missions in Iraq and Syria, targeting Islamic State group militants. 

The RAF's 617 Squadron will join a US-led international coalition to prevent the IS from "regaining a foothold in Iraq", a British commander said.

"We're going to conduct operations in support of the government of Iraq, fighting the remnants of Daesh in Iraq and Syria - and continuing to take the fight to them in their sanctuary where otherwise they would be threatening the streets of the United Kingdom and our allies," said Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigstonm speaking to the Press Association.

The RAF's 617 Squadron is best known for a daring night-time raid during the Second World War which destroyed a number of German dams. 

Unlike their historical counterparts, the current 617 Squadron will fly the brand new F-35B jet, that will be stationed on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, a £3 billion aircraft carrier that departed on her maiden voyage two-days-ago. 

The F-35B jets are equipped with advanced sensors, mission systems and stealth technology, allowing them to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, in addition to their usual offensive sorties. 

"The F35B Lightning jets will pack a potent punch against Daesh and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq," said Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey.

Despite IS losing its self-decribed "caliphate" territories in Syria and Iraq, the group continues to pose a threat in the region. 

"For the last two years we have been identifying pockets where they have dug in to strongholds in the mountains in remote areas, and have been helping the government of Iraq to clear out those remnants," explained Sir Wigston.

Read more: The Generals' Letter: Stoking the fire of French Islamophobia

The UK has been conducting missions against the IS in Iraq since 2014, as part of the US-led International Coalition, and later expanded operations to Syria late 2015.

Supporting the HMS Queen Elizabeth will be six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

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