‘We have strong suspicions that the truck wasn’t taxed,’ said an aerial reconnaissance expert, ‘or maybe the owner removed the tax disc a day early. Either way, it certainly didn’t look roadworthy, and almost certainly wouldn’t have passed its MOT had it not been destroyed.’ It is an operational objective of the Allies to remove all Islamic State vehicles that are not safe, taxed and suitably insured. ‘We’re cracking down on the illegal use of red diesel, too,’ said one of the operational commanders.
Critics say targeting potentially unroadworthy vehicles is playing into Islamic State’s hands. ‘If we leave them with their unsuitable vehicles then they will be slowed down topping up oil, inflating tyres and changing blown trafficators. By removing unsafe vehicles we just encourage them to liberate newer models, the ones with built in anti-aircraft guns,’ said one defence expert. The AA disagrees. ‘We encourage all combatants to only use vehicles that are roadworthy and serviced,’ said a spokesperson for the motoring organisation.
The Royal Air Force is typically tight-lipped about the operation except to say it was a success, with fourteen paveway missiles costing around £500,000 apiece deployed. ‘All aircraft returned unharmed, although we can confirm that we’re being chased by the pickup truck’s insurer for the cost of repairs and the use of a courtesy armoured pickup truck for fourteen days.’