Ukraine’s Zelensky visits Poland as allies step up military aid

Discrepancies over Syria’s civilian casualty data raises concerns over UK’s ‘perfect’ war claims

LONDON: Claims by the UK government that only one civilian death occurred during its military bombardment of Syria in its fight against Daesh as part of an international coalition have been questioned by experts and human rights groups.

In May 2018, Britain admitted to one civilian death caused by its military in eastern Syria, but the then-defense secretary Gavin Williamson’s information given to the House of Commons contradicted records of civilian casualties kept by its allies.

The coalition report only accounted for one civilian casualty incident in eastern Syria on that day, giving the location as Abu Kamal, but investigators ruled out civilian deaths in a coalition strike in the area.

The airstrike in question is also missing from recently released UK records.

Its report concluded that coalition strikes were not conducted in the geographical area corresponding to the report of civilian casualties and Syrian nongovernmental organizations along with investigate journalists have no record of a civilian death in the area on that day.

A Guardian investigation published last month into long-held British claims it fought a “perfect” war in neighboring Iraq, killing more than 3,000 Daesh militants without any civilian casualties, actually found six strikes in the Iraqi city of Mosul that killed civilians.

The report, which was carried out in conjunction with the watchdog Airwars, concluded that UK forces were “probably” responsible for civilian deaths in the six strikes on Mosul in 2016 and 2017.

The discrepancies in government accounts have raised concerns about the British government’s ability, transparency and willingness to properly account for civilian deaths and injuries caused by its bombing campaign.

British bombing in Iraq as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition efforts against Daesh started in 2014, and in Syria the year after, with more than 4,000 munitions in the two countries.

The Ministry of Defense declined to comment directly on discrepancies in the UK public record, with coalition public statements or with data from Syrian groups.

“A highly trained and professional team of UK military personnel assessed a civilian fatality had been caused,” a Ministry of Defense spokesperson told the Guardian.

“We remain confident in the transparency of our reporting and data published by the department can be considered as authoritative on UK military operations as possible,” it added.

Later this year, there will be a tribunal hearing to rule on a freedom of information request, which will determine whether it is in the public interest for the British public to know about civilian deaths carried out by its military in the fight against Daesh.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.