UK approaching 1,000 strikes milestone in Iraq, Syria
The UK-based activist organization, Stop the War Coalition, says British airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have increased by a whopping 85 percent during the first half of the year, compared to the previous six months.
The organization made the announcement Sunday, based on data released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Data released by the Freedom of Information Act as well as updates on the MoD’s website revealed that 249 strikes were launched from British aircraft and drones between July and December 2015, while 464 strikes were launched in the first six months of 2016.
As of June 30, the UK has carried out a total of 944 air strikes in Iraq and Syria since September 2014.
More than 13,500 strikes have been launched by the US-led coalition, the vast majority of which were carried out by the United States Air Force.
The term ‘airstrike’ can cover a variety of attacks, ranging from a single weapon launched at one target, to multiple weapons launched at different targets within the same area.
The surge in strikes this year has been attributed to the increase in the number of British aircraft taking part in bombing raids. Following the UK parliament’s vote to undertake strikes in Syria in December 2015, two Tornado and six Typhoon aircraft were dispatched to the region.
The use of airstrikes has been criticized for killing civilians. At least 30 civilians lost their lives when the US-led coalition launched an aerial attack purportedly against a position of Daesh terrorists in Manbij on June 9. Eleven children were reportedly among the victims.
The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be the Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. The coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians.
The air raids in Syria are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against alleged Daesh positions in Iraq, which started in August, 2014.
Daesh Takfiris, who were among militants initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control parts of Iraq and Syria, where they are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.