THE BRITISH airforce has admitted its involvement in the US-led airstrikes which killed over 60 Syrian Army troops and injured over 100 more.
It has been confirmed that a UK Reaper drone was part of the American-led raid on Dayr az Zawr last Saturday. The Reaper is an unmanned British drone that fires Hellfire missiles via remote control.
The strike in the area of Deir el-Zor was originally attributed to Australian, US and Danish forces operating as part of the US-led coalition but the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed yesterday that it had been involved.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that the UK participated in the recent coalition air strike in Syria, south of Dayr az Zawr on Saturday, and we are fully cooperating with the coalition investigation.
‘The UK would not intentionally target Syrian military units. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.’ Stop the War campaign’s Chris Nineham said: ‘There are only two possible conclusions from this.
‘Either the RAF is attacking Assad’s forces deliberately, or its claims about zero accidental deaths from its bombings are fantasy.’ UK airstrikes have been officially carried out as part of Operation Shader in Syria since a vote in favour in December 2015 agreed to the use of such strikes against ISIS. A previous vote in 2013 refused to authorise air strikes.
It emerged in August that British Special Forces were also operating on the ground in the country, despite the vote in December 2015 explicitly stating that there would be no ‘UK boots on the ground’ in either Iraq or Syria.
The Australian PM has expressed his regret for the loss of life in the US-led strike, which Australia was also a part. Speaking in New York, Turnbull expressed ‘regret’ for the deaths, confirming that ‘Australian aircraft were involved in the sortie that’s been the subject of the recent news reporting.
‘I can say that as soon as the coalition commanders were advised by the Russian command in the region that Syrian forces had been affected, that sortie was discontinued.’
The US also expressed ‘regret’ at the ‘unintended loss of life’. The UK has so far not made a statement.