UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will face questions from the Human Rights Select Committee on Wednesday (16 Dec) over the targeted killing of two British men in a UK drone strike. 21-year old Reyaad Khan from Cardiff was killed in the strike in Syria on 21 August 2015 alongside 26-year old Ruhul Amin from Aberdeen and an unknown third man.
In the run up to the House of Commons vote on air strikes against ISIS in Syria, there has been much hype in the media about ‘precision strikes’. In particular a new British missile, the Brimstone, has been lauded by the press and politicians with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon going so far as to suggest that it “eliminates civilian casualties.”
The perception of ‘precision’ also underlies much of the support for drones targeted killing, with the phrase ‘pinpoint accuracy’ being deployed by the media almost as often as the weapons themselves. However the details and claims of such ‘precision’ deserve scrutiny. It is important to ask whether we are not in fact being misguided about ‘precision’. Not only in terms of the actual impact on the ground, but also in the permissiveness it engenders for further war. Read more
Since British military operations against ISIS began last September the MoD has been publishing brief updates of its military activity in Iraq on its website (see here). These updates include some details of strikes undertaken by both British Reaper drones and the UK’s dedicated strike aircraft, the Tornado. We now have 12 months of updates (Sept 14 – Aug 15) and while most but not all strikes have been included in these updates it does allow us to make some initial comparisons.
Over the past 3 months US, UK and other forces have carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria using manned aircraft and drones. There is little public available information as yet about the impact of these strikes on the ground . Here’s is what we know – and don’t know – so far.
On August 7, President Obama ordered what he called “limited strikes” against ISIS in order to protect American personnel in Iraq. At the same time he stated that he would “not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq”. US airstrikes began that next day and initiated another US military intervention in Iraq that has subsequently been named Operation Inherent Resolve. Read more