Cameron testing the water on British drone strikes in Syria

David Cameron with RAF pilots at Al Minhad Air Base in UAE (credit Stefan Rousseau/PA)
David Cameron with RAF pilots at Al Minhad Air Base in UAE, 2012 (credit Stefan Rousseau/PA)

With the faltering of the US air war against ISIS in Iraq, the UK and the US are considering ways to increase their military activity against the group in Syria.  “We need to crush ISIL in Iraq and Syria” said Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons this week in a response to the massacre of Western holidaymakers in Tunisia.

This phrase was interpreted by many in the media (possibly after government spin doctor briefings) to mean possible UK air and drone strikes in Syria. Read more

Crimes and Misdemeanours

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Chris Cole, Penny Walker, Eagle Spits, Katha Karcher

On Wednesday 27 May, four British drone protesters (including myself) will go on trial at Lincoln Magistrates Court. We are accused of criminal damage to the perimeter fence of RAF Waddington after cutting a hole to gain entry on January 5 2015 – the first working day of the new year. Arguably this was the day that UK armed drone use moved from being limited and provisional (the armed Reaper drones were acquired only on a limited basis until the end of Afghanistan operations at the end of 2014) to being permanently available for armed remote operations anywhere and at any time. 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

UK launches drone strikes in Iraq (again)

Reaper-17The MoD has announced the first UK drone strike in Iraq against ISIS militants. The strike come almost exactly a decade after the first UK drone strike in Iraq in 2004 when RAF pilots operated US drones as part of the Joint US/UK Combined Joint Predator Task Force

Yesterday’s MoD statement said:

This weekend saw the first air strike by a Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted air system (RPAS) as British forces continue to assist the Iraqi Government in their fight against ISIL.

A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad, where ISIL terrorists were laying improvised explosive devices.

The Reaper RPAS, using procedures identical to those of manned aircraft, successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile.

UK Reaper continued to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to coalition aircraft which enabled them to conduct further strikes.

Read more

Drones in Iraq and Syria: What we know and what we don’t

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.

airstirke-raqqaBackground

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