RAF fire Brimstone missiles as aid finally reaches besieged Syrian City

The RAF has used Brimstone missiles against IS in Syria for the first time.

The missiles were used to target the IS stronghold of Raqqa, where amongst other targets including a command centre, a Brimstone was used to hit a supply truck. Brimstone missiles were also used to attack cranes brought in to repair the damage sustained to oil fields by previous coalition attacks. Oil fields are a major source of income for IS.

Brimstone missiles are viewed as some of the most accurate strike missiles available and are able to be fired up to 7 miles away from the target. The missiles cost more than £100,000 each, but manufacturer MBDA promises they have a low risk of collateral damage, creating a small, precise blast areas limiting the amount of debris which often causes the largest numbers of civilian casualties. There are reports that a target in a doorway has been hit, leaving those only meters away unharmed unlike traditional, less accurate missiles.

Meaningful difference

Currently only the UK and Saudi Arabia have Brimstone missiles with David Cameron arguing their use would make a “meaningful difference” to the coalition currently fighting IS in Syria. IS leaders have been known to live amongst civilians and it is expected, the precision these missiles bring will minimise, though not eliminate, civilian casualties. 

According to the MOD, the morning of Monday 11th January, marked the 1000th sortie by an RAF Reaper since they were committed to operations against IS in October 2014.

Aid in Madaya

This comes as an aid convoy carrying food and medical supplies enters the besieged town of Madaya, near the Lebanon border. At least 10 people are reported to have starved to death, and there are reports of inhabitants being forced to eat leaves and drink salt water to survive.

Madaya is currently held by pro-government supporters of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been blockaded for six months as part of the Syrian army effort to reestablish President Assad’s control over the Syria-Lebanese border.

Aid agencies have warned currently 40,000 people are at risk in Madaya.

Key facts

  • Syria is currently facing a war on three fronts. IS have established a stronghold in Raqqa on the north bank of the Euphrates whom the coalition, including the UK, wish to defeat, and are currently targeting with airstrikes. President Assad and his supporters within Syria and outside, including Russia, want to defeat IS, but they also want to defeat the third group, the anti government rebels, who oppose both him and his regime and IS. Caught between these three groups, and their global supporters and enemies are the civilians such as those in Madaya.
  • The UN Security Council has condemned the current siege warfare for “forcing a population, collectively, to surrender or suffer starvation”
  • The UN has set out a road map for peace talks that include calls to allow aid agencies unhindered access to all areas