UK carried out airstrikes in Iraq while the PM was in hospital

By agency reporter
April 27, 2020

The Ministry of Defence has admitted that the Royal Air Force staged air strikes in Iraq on 10 April 2020, when Boris Johnson was in hospital. A brief and vague account of the incident was posted on the MoD website on Saturday 25 April.

This is the first known act of aerial bombing by UK troops for seven months. The bombing took place a week after Dominic Raab offered British support for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) accused the government of hiding from scrutiny by mentioning the bombing as quietly as possible while the media are understandably focused on COVID-19. It was not featured as one of the main items on the front page of the MoD website, which were focused on the involvement of UK armed forces in tackling coronavirus, and plans for marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 

The PPU said that the government has urgent questions to answer about whether armed forces leaders consulted ministers about the bombing, and which ministers knew about and approved while the Prime Minister was in hospital.

The MoD says that the bombing on 10 April (Good Friday) took place west of Tuz Khurma and involved two Typhoon aircraft and a Reaper aircraft. The Ministry says they were bombing “Daesh terrorists” but the PPU said that the implication that there were no civilian casualties was almost impossible to believe, given the inaccuracy of so many similar claims in the past.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union said: “On 3 April, Dominic Raab was tweeting about his enthusiasm for a global ceasefire during the pandemic. A week later, with Johnson in hospital and Raab in charge, the RAF was dropping bombs in Iraq. More than two weeks after the bombing took place, the government have quietly posted some vague information online at the weekend.

“Ministers and military bosses must not be allowed to misuse the COVID-19 crisis to avoid scrutiny. They have urgent questions to answer. Why has this bombing taken place now? Did military leaders consult the government about it? Did Raab know about it when he was claiming to support a global ceasefire? We need details of the incident and realistic information about casualties, including civilians.

“In the last two decades, events in Iraq have made very clear that violence cannot solve deep-seated problems, whoever engages in it.”

Analysis by the monitoring group Airwars has concluded that between around 8,000 and 13,000 civilians have been killed by airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014. This includes airstrikes by both the US-led coalition forces and Russian forces.

* Peace Pledge Union


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