Operation Shader II
Operation Shader is the operational code name given to the contribution of the United Kingdom in the ongoing military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL).
The operation involves the British Army providing ground support and training to allied forces fighting against ISIL, and the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy providing humanitarian aid airdrops, reconnaissance and airstrikes. Additionally, UK Special Forces have reportedly been operating in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Tunisia.
In 2014, ISIL made vast territorial gains in Iraq and Syria following several offensives. It claimed its captured territory a caliphate within which it enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia. The group, which was designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, received universal condemnation for its human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.
The city of Raqqa was captured by ISIL in 2014 and they made the city its capital. As a result, the city was hit by airstrikes from the Syrian government, Russia, the United States, and several other countries. On 17 October 2017, following a lengthy battle that saw massive destruction to the city, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared the liberation of Raqqa from the Islamic State to be complete
On 23 March 2019, following the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, Islamic State lost its final significant territory in Syria to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by the U.S. and its coalition partners, including the UK. This was widely announced as the "defeat of ISIL" by the SDF and its allies.
It would appear that this announcement was premature.
In early October 2020, large numbers of ISIL fighters once again began amassing on the border between Iraq and Syria. On the 20th October the ISIL forces crossed the border and quickly captured an industrial area to the east of Palmyra.
The POL facilities were used to provide the fuel required for their captured military vehicles to overrun defenses and capture the airfields at Palmyra and Tabqa.
ISIL fighters have now surrounded the city of Raqqa and appear intent on recapturing the city that was previously considered the de-facto ISIL capital. In response to these developments, the UK has now initiated Operation Shader II, which represents an intensifying on the air campaign against ISIL in Syria in an attempt to drive them out of Syria for good.
The new UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth along with her escorts has deployed to the region with 12 Harrier GR9 jets from 801 NAS aboard. The RAF have deployed 12 F-16jets from 11 Sqn to Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey.