One of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces in northern Iraq which was being used by Islamic State as a major training base has been bombed by the RAF.
The Mosul palace, built by the former Iraqi dictator, was attacked in a joint coalition operation on Monday.
The Ministry of Defence said initial analysis indicated the coalition mission was “successful”, as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced the deployment of more UK troops to Iraq to support the military effort against IS.
The Mosul palace was being used by IS to train foreign recruits
The RAF used guided bombs to first target the headquarters of the terror group’s training base, followed by a security centre, in an attack which was filmed by forces.
Aerial footage shows the bombardment of the palace with each explosive bomb strike sending giant plumes of black smoke billowing up into the sky.
The palace is annihilated until it is barely visible, masked by a massive black smokescreen.
US troops at a Mosul Saddam palace in 2003. It’s unclear if it’s the one the RAF targeted
The assault followed extensive surveillance which established IS – also known as Daesh – was using the sprawling grounds as a headquarters and training centre for foreign recruits.
The complex, set in a large secure compound next to the River Tigris, included the main palace building, used as accommodation as well as a meeting venue by the terrorists.
There were also a number of more discreet outbuildings used for command and control, training, internal security and repression.
The Ministry of Defence said: “The British contribution was a pair of Tornados, armed with the largest guided bombs in the RAF’s inventory, the 2000lb Enhanced Paveway III, which were used to target first the headquarters buildings, then a security centre.”
Mr Fallon said: “Daesh has been losing followers and territory for months, and emphatic strikes like this show that we and the coalition will not waver.
“Daesh fighters, both foreign and home-grown, can see that they are targets inside this cult.”
The extra UK troops heading out to the war zone later this month will be based at the Al Asad airbase, where they will provide counter improvised explosive device (c-IED), first aid and infantry skills training.
“These troops will bolster a campaign that has Daesh on the back foot,” said Mr Fallon.
UK troops have helped to train more than 21,000 Iraqi forces and carried out more than 900 strikes, alongside the coalition.
The Government also recently delivered around £1.4m worth of machine gun and sniper ammunition to the Kurdish Peshmerga who are battling IS in the north of Iraq.