Foreign Secretary challenged in parliament on CommonSpace Syria bombing story


Government admits “people will have been killed as a result of airstrikes”

FOREIGN SECRETARY PHILIP HAMMOND was confronted in parliament over his failure to count or identify the people killed by UK bombings in Syria and Iraq.

CommonSpace revealed (Tuesday 15 December) that the UK military could not provide figures on how many people have been killed in airstrikes or explain how military intelligence identifies differences between Daesh and rebel fighters.

Reports state that up to 2,104 civilians have been killed in western bombings, with logistical barriers making it difficult to judge the full scale of bloodshed and military chaos.

When asked how many people had been killed in bombings, the Ministry of Defence obfuscated on the definition responding: “What do you mean by people?”

Yesterday [Wednesday 16 December] SNP MP Kirsten Oswald challenged Hammond on the claim that bombing campaigns could be conducted with “precision”.

Oswald said: “I was surprised to read yesterday that, when asked how many people had been killed by UK airstrikes, the Ministry of Defence responded, ‘What do you mean by ‘people’?’ Will he clarify what the Ministry of Defence means by ‘people’?”

Hammond conceded that people will have been killed in UK bombings – but refused to clarify how the military identifies those killed in its bombing campaigns.

Expecting the public to take the government’s word with no further evidence, Hammond replied: “No, that is a question for the Ministry of Defence. Clearly, people will have been killed as a result of airstrikes, but we have no reports of civilian casualties. I cannot, I am afraid, tell the honourable Lady anything further than that.”

CommonSpace published concerns that those killed in military strikes have previously been the victims of false intelligence, meaning the wrong people are killed.

AirWars, an independent group tracking reports of civilian casualties in Syria-Iraq, said that claims from the government “cannot at present be publicly verified. This is because the UK refuses to declare the locations of almost 200 Reaper drone strikes in Iraq.”

Peace campaigners warned that the UK has dragged itself into another expensive, lengthy, and unwinnable war as part of a bombing campaign that is almost 500 days old.

As a result of CommonSpace reporting, the foreign secretary has admitted that “people will have been killed as a result of airstrikes”. However, the public is no closer to knowing who those people are and further context on their deaths.

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Picture courtesy of BBC Parliament