02 May 17. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 24 Apr 17 Typhoons supported Syrian Democratic Forces in Eastern Syria while Tornados attacked a
Daesh position in Mosul. On 27 Apr 17 Tornados destroyed a Daesh position in Western Mosul and carried out a similar engagement on the following day. On 30 Apr 17 Typhoons attacked a group of Daesh fighters West of
Raqqa while Tornados destroyed two Daesh buildings in Mosul. (MoD, 2 May 17.)
Comment: The BBC reported (5 May 17) that an agreement between Russia and Iran to establish safe zones in Syria had come into force, with Turkey acting as guarantor. The aim was to provide safe conditions for the provision of aid supplies and the voluntary return of refugees. However it was “unclear whether any of the rebels will abide by the ceasefire”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/18, 08 May 17)
02 May 17. South Sudan: Additional UK Support. The MoD reported (2 May 17) that an additional 35 UK military personnel have joined the UK presence providing support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The latest addition to the British contingent will be based mainly in Malakal, undertaking projects such as the construction of a jetty on the River Nile. Other Royal Engineers are supporting the construction of a temporary Field Hospital in Bentiu: when completed, a permanent hospital facility is to be constructed. The hospitals are to be staffed by medical personnel from all three Services.
Comment: The additional personnel means that there are now some 240 British personnel based in South Sudan, mainly split between Malakal and Bentiu. Including a small number in the UNMISS Headquarters in Juba, the total number of UK military personnel deployed is expected to rise to 400. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/18, 08 May 17)
04 May 17. Libya & Tunisia: Foreign Secretary Visits. The Foreign Secretary met the Libyan Prime Minister and Foreign Minister (4 May 17) “to discuss the challenges faced by Libya’s Government of National Accord and how the UK can support Libyan efforts to re-establish security, stability and prosperity for the Libyan people”.
The meetings in Tripoli followed talks in Tunis (3 May 17) with the Tunisian Foreign Minister on counter-terrorism co-operation, UK assistance in improving the security situation and boosting trade.
The Foreign Secretary continued his visit to Libya (5 May 17) in order to meet the President and second Vice-
President of Libya’s Parliament. In this meeting the Foreign Secretary emphasised the importance of Libya’s political institutions working together to restore security, stability and prosperity in Libya.
Comment: The Foreign Secretary concluded his visit by spending time at the Tobruk Commonwealth War Cemetery, where some 2,000 Commonwealth soldiers are buried. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/18, 08 May 17)
01 May 17. Ascension Island: Airbridge Re-routed. The Ascension Island Travel Agency advised (1 May 17) that the MoD is re-routing the South Atlantic Airbridge via an alternative location. The re-routing is because the RAF’s Airbus A330 Voyager aircraft is too heavy to land at Ascension Island. The decision to re-route means that the South Atlantic Airbridge will no longer call at Ascension Islands en route to the Falkland Islands for the foreseeable future. The South Atlantic Airbridge flights operating with the Voyager aircraft are unlikely to restart before 2019/2020.
Comment: The MoD ceased flying the Voyager aircraft to Ascension from 14 Apr 17 “for safety reasons” following concern over the state of the Island’s runway. At the time the MoD gave assurances that it would
ensure “the continuation of military support to the Falkland Islands through an alternative hub”. Meanwhile Ascension Island travellers are being advised that, the only regular service to and from the Island is via the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena.
RMS St Helena has been having problems of her own. Following mechani