AS RAF LOSSIEMOUTH Typhoons continue to take action against the Daesh terrorists in Syria and Iraq an MP has been calling on the UK Defence Secretary to address Parliament on civilian casualties.
SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara has written to Michael Fallon seeking confirmation on civilian casualties as a result of coalition airstrikes in Syria.
His probe follows non-governmental organisation reports that over two days in February, 15 civilians were reported to have been killed as a result of air strikes in Syria, including three children.
The Ministry of Defence provides regular updates on strikes by UK Tornado and Typhoon aircraft over both Syria and Iraq, with both aircraft types using weapons systems that boast pinpoint accuracy. According to the MoD reports, no Typhoon actions took place over Syria on February 17 and 18, the days on which the MP is basing his question.
However, Tornado GR4s and a remotely piloted Reaper drone did make strikes over Syria on February 18, the Tornado using a two Brimstone missiles in an attack on a Daesh-controlled oilfield – although it is not known if any civilian casualties resulted.
Mr O’Hara said in his letter that it was “regrettable” that MPs and the public were relying on NGOs for information on civilian casualties.
He said: “The UK government must address parliament. We were promised updates on the UK’s bombing campaign by the Prime Minister last December and we’re still waiting.
“Earlier this year, Michael Fallon said in the House of Commons that the Ministry of Defence would ‘look at any evidence brought forward in open source reporting by other organisations’ on civilian deaths when assessing the impact of airstrikes by UK forces.
“This was backed by the Prime Minister who told the Liaison Committee in January that in the case of civilian casualties, ”if people make allegations we must look at them.”
“We are all committed to destroying Daesh – it is about how best we do that. We know that 72% of Scots were opposed to airstrikes, and 57 out of 59 Scottish MPs voted against them. The UK government must step up and provide transparency over the coalition airstrikes.”
The MoD reports on operations by the Lossiemouth Typhoons as well as Tornado and Reaper deployments are issued weekly detailing targets selected. The reports, often including video footage shot by the UK aircraft, appears online at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-air-strikes-against-daesh.