UK increases drone missions in Syria

Armed RAF Reaper Aircraft Approaches Kandahar Airfield, AfghanistanThe MoD has released new data on UK drone operations in Iraq and Syria to Drone Wars in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Figures for the second quarter of 2015 show a significant rise in the number of Reaper drone flights in Syria since the beginning of the year.  In January just over 10% of UK Reaper drone sorties took place in Syrian airspace.  In June 2015 this had risen to 40%. Read more

UK operations in Iraq/Syria:  New reporting methods means less transparency & understanding

Days before the parliamentary recess Defence Secretary Michael Fallon slipped out a written statement on UK military operations against ISIS.  Overshadowed by the uproar around the revelations from Reprieve that UK pilots embedded in US forces were already undertaking air strikes in Syria in direct contravention of parliamentary authority, the statement reveals two important changes to UK drone operations.  Firstly that the UK is changing the way it calculates and records air strikes in Iraq to fall in line with the US methodology (or as Fallon chose to  put it “the Coalition method”).  Secondly through what Michael Fallon calls “collaborative force management and sharing arrangements”, the UK and the US will once again apparently be sharing drones. Read more

Six months of war in Iraq: Less ‘skin in the game’ mustn’t mean less scrutiny

Reaper-shellThis week marks six months since the parliamentary vote that committed Britain to a new war in Iraq. British and US air strikes continue to take place on a daily basis though now virtually unmentioned in parliament and the press.  In the past, national media poured over every detail of British military campaigns, evaluating progress, printing maps and eye-witness accounts, even having breathless reporters on the evening news counting aircraft out and counting them back in. In parliament MP’s questioned ministers and senior commanders in committee rooms while debating strategy from the back benches. By stark contrast today’s war in Iraq receives little such attention seemingly because it is being waged by strike aircraft and remote-controlled drones after politicians vowed not to deploy troops. With less ‘skin in the game’ it seems that war in Iraq is yesterday’s news. Read more

A snapshot of permanent war: drone strikes in the first six weeks of 2015

The use of armed drones to launch lethal strikes around the globe is rapidly becoming normalised. Despite widespread ethical, political and legal misgivings and the danger to global peace and security from the precedent that such strikes set, US, British and Israeli drones carried out numerous strikes in the first few weeks of 2015. Pictures of an apparent Chinese armed drone that had crashed in Nigeria also surfaced in a worrying sign of the further spread of such systems. Read more

FoI release shows high tempo of strikes in Iraq as Defence Select Committee urges more action

Drone Wars UK has obtained the first detailed figures for use of armed British drones in Iraq and Syria  since UK operations began in October 2014. A Ministry of Defence (MoD) response to a Freedom of Information request from the group show that the UK flew just over 100 armed Reaper missions in Iraq in the ten weeks up until 31 December 2014, launching 38 Hellfire missiles. Although Parliament expressly granted authorisation only for the use of military force in Iraq, 5 Reaper flights took place over Syria although no weapons were launched. Read more