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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

UK admits to first civilian death in fight against ISIS

Though critics say the UK airstrikes are responsible for far more civillian deaths

Gavin Williamson, UK, Secretary of State for Defence has acknowledged a civilian casualty for the first time in the near four-year campaign against ISIS. 
Gavin Williamson, UK, Secretary of State for Defence has acknowledged a civilian casualty for the first time in the near four-year campaign against ISIS. 

The UK has acknowledged a civilian death in the war against ISIS for the first time in the near 4-year international campaign against the terror group.

In a written statement to the House of Common, Minister of Defence Gavin Williamson said the incident took place on the 26th March.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) airstrike targeted three ISIS fighters, though a civilian on a motorbike crossed into the strike zone “at the last minute”.

Mr Williamson added that the death was "deeply regrettable".

The statement read “We do everything we can to minimise the risk to civilian life from UK strikes through our rigorous targeting processes and the professionalism of UK Service personnel.

"It is therefore deeply regrettable that a UK air strike on 26 March 2018, targeting Daesh fighters in eastern Syria, resulted in an unintentional civilian fatality.

"During a strike to engage three Daesh fighters, a civilian motorbike crossed into the strike area at the last moment and it is assessed that one civilian was unintentionally killed.

“Such incidents will not weaken our resolve to defeat Daesh and rid the world of its poisonous ideology of hate and intolerance.”

He added that the wider coalition was now conducting an investigation, and would report back “in due course”.

The Ministry of Defence has previously claimed that there was “no evidence” RAF strikes against ISIS had led to the deaths of civilians.

The RAF carries out airstrikes and other operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as part of an international coalition dubbed ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’, some 75 nations are participant to coalition activities.

A whistle blower within the coalition, told the BBC earlier this week that there was evidence RAF’s airstrikes in Iraq and Syria had killed civilians but not acknowledged its role.

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The source said it was “impossible” to carry out bombing campaigns in densely populated areas like Mosul and Raqqa with civilians being killed.

The source added that they had seen evidence RAF strikes had lead to civilian casualties “on several occasions”.

"To suggest they have not - as has been done - is nonsense," they added.

Airwars, an independent group which has monitored civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, says that between 1,066 and 1,579 civilians were likely killed by coalition airstrikes during the near 10 month battle for Mosul.

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