By Dan Warburton (Mirror)
Military experts say the latest wave of air assaults on jihadi terrorists has caused Islamic State into retreat but the debate about sending in ground troops continues.
RAF air strikes have killed more than 170 Islamic State fighters in seven days.
Experts claim the wave of attacks is the UK’s most fierce “punch” against the jihadis since bombing began.
Analysts arrived at the body count using footage from Typhoon and Tornado jets – but the Ministry of Defence refuses to give exact figures.
A number of key IS positions in northern Iraq were pounded with guided missiles while in eastern Syria, a Reaper drone took out a vehicle with a Hellfire missile. And Typhoons hit five targets near Mosul on March 25.
The campaign has been ramped up as fighters retreat.
A source said: “This is the biggest punch against IS that the RAF and SAS have delivered.”
But Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said the MoD should not withhold the full death toll.
He told the Sunday People: “A lot of IS success comes in terms of propaganda. If they’ve suffered severe blows by the RAF that’s negative for them and should be broadcast.”
He added that beating IS will also require “significant ground operations”.
The wave of air strikes follows a month of heavy attacks, in which British fighter jets have hit key IS strongholds.
In another strike, four Typhoons dropped 16 Paveway missiles on a huge weapons factory in the countryside near Qubaysah, western Iraq.
The fresh strikes come just days after Russian forces helped retake the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
Images emerged this week of the devastation left after IS used the ancient theatre as a venue for public executions and also murdered the city’s 82-year-old former antiquities chief.
Moscow’s defence minister claimed warplanes carried out around 40 sorties, striking 117 “terrorist targets” and killing 80 IS fighters.
Meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron is shoring up defences by flooding Britain’s streets with 1,000 extra terror cops to prevent a Paris-style attack.