Air strikes in Iraq and Syria by the RAF have killed nearly 1,000 enemy "combatants" but not a single civilian, the Ministry of Defence has claimed.
Chris Woods, director of international air strikes monitor Air Wars, cast doubt on the statistics, describing the claims there have been no civilian casualties as “ridiculous”. Air Wars said RAF air strikes in the ISIL-held cities of Mosul and Ramadi may have killed 32 civilians in December 2015 alone.
“Even with the widespread use of relatively precise weapons by the West, air strikes are the most lethal weapon against civilians. It would be unprecedented in the history of warfare for it not to have killed civilians," Mr Woods explained. “It is a matter of public record there have been a huge number of civilian casualties and yet the Ministry of Defence continue to deny any caused by the UK. I don’t understand why they are making a virtue of the failings of this project. We have no one on the ground to follow up. Our ignorance is being claimed as a sign of perfection.”
Chris Cole, founder of Drone Wars UK, told The Independent: “It is very unlikely and I find it difficult to believe. There is a real issue with the credibility of these statements, and it is perpetuating this idea that you can have a bloodless war. And that is simply not true. The UK government needs to be honest about the reality of the situation.”
Amnesty International’s Kristyan Benedict, the charity’s Syria campaign manager, told The Independent: “It's all very well the UK government saying there have been no civilian deaths resulting from its airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, but until there's a comprehensive, independent and impartial investigation it is impossible to know if this is true.”