The latest response to our Freedom of Information requests on British air and drone operations in Iraq and Syria show a marked decline in UK air and drone strikes in Syria since December 2018. (See our stats page for full update) Altogether, British drones and manned aircraft fired 189 missiles and bombs in the final three months of 2018 compared with 69 in the first three months of 2019 – a drop of 63%. Read more
The rise in UK air and drone strikes in Syria since September 2018 has been laid bare in the MoD’s latest responses to a Drone Wars UK FoI request. The number of British strikes in Syria per month rose to its highest ever amount (75) in December 2018. Overall, the UK launched 244 air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria during 2018, firing 512 munitions. Between 2014 and the end of 2018, the UK has fired more than 4,100 missiles and bombs in a total of 1,925 strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. You can see the details on our stats page here. Read more
Analysis of figures released in response to Freedom of Information requests by Drone Wars UK indicate that the UK has spent £1.75bn on armed air missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since August 2014. It should be noted that the overall cost of UK military operations in Iraq and Syria will be much higher.
Strikingly, the data shows that at £268 million, the cost alone of the weapons fired over the last 3½ years is more than the total amount the UK has spent on humanitarian assistance in Iraq (£210 million) in the same time period. The full cost of flying the UK’s armed aircraft (Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper) for more than 42,000 hours is almost £1.5 billion. Read more
After a lengthy delay in responding to our FoI requests, the MOD has now provided data on UK air operations in Iraq and Syria for the second half of 2017. For our updated complete set of figures for UK air operations in Iraq and Syria since 2014 see here.
As ISIS collapses in Iraq, Syria becomes UK focus
The newly released figures show just how much the focus of UK air operations switched from Iraq to Syria during 2017. In 2016, 74% of UK armed air missions took place in Iraq with just over a quarter in Syria. In 2017 the numbers were almost the reverse, with 68% of armed missions taking place in Syria and only 32% in Iraq.
A Ministry of Defence press conference has revealed that as the war against ISIS ends, British Reaper drones are to stay deployed in the Middle East after other UK aircraft return home . As The Times reported
‘Air Commodore Johnny Stringer, who led the British air campaign against the terrorist group until last month, said that drones and other surveillance aircraft would continue to fly over Iraq and Syria to help local forces guard against the militants returning.,
The imminent defeat of ISIS in Iraq should see British drones grounded. But will they continue to launch strikes in what is becoming a perpetual war?
This month (October 2017) marks ten years of British Reaper drone operations. Acquired on a temporary basis as an ‘Urgent Operational Capability’, the UK began operating armed drones in Afghanistan in October 2007 after having three delivered directly to Kandahar airport. A decade later the Reapers have been in continuous use and are now deemed a ‘core capability’. Having already tripled the number in service, the government are in the process of increasing the fleet up to 26 as the new, updated version of Reaper (re-branded by the British government as ‘Protector’) are delivered over the next two – three years. Read more