RAF Reaper drones used in airstrike that killed Syrian troops, MoD says
Patrick Wintour, Guardian, Sep 19 2916
RAF Reaper drones were involved in the weekend airstrike that killed at least 62 Syrian government troops and threatened the fragile truce in the country, the MoD has said. The British military is cooperating fully with an investigation by the Pindo-led coalition into the incident, which led to dozens of soldiers being killed and injured, according to Syrian government reports. Australian, Danish and Pindo air forces were also involved in the raid. An MoD spokesman lied:
We can confirm that the UK participated in the recent coalition airstrike in Syria, south of Deir ez-Zour on Saturday, and we are fully cooperating with the coalition investigation. The UK would not intentionally target Syrian military units. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.
Remote-controlled UK Reaper drones were involved in the strike. The raid prompted a furious response from Russia and Syria, and led to allegations that the airstrikes on the Syrian soldiers could not have been mistaken. Assad described the attack as “flagrant aggression.” The Russians called an emergency meeting of the UNSC to discuss the incident, a move described by Samantha Power as a stunt. Vitaly Churkin said:
It is highly suspicious that the US chose to conduct this particular airstrike at this time.
He added that it did not look like an honest mistake. The Pindo military has not confirmed the strikes against the Syrian troops, but has suggested it was carrying out a raid against Daesh. Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed that his country’s aircraft had been involved, but pulled out when Russian officials advised the targets may have been Syrian military personnel. Turnbull told reporters in New York:
We regret the loss of life and injury to any Syrian personnel affected. Australia’s rules of engagement were to target Deash, but that the environment in Syria was very complex. You’ll find over the next little while no doubt arguments or issues about why there wasn’t more coordination or who was meant to be advising who. It remains to be seen whether the incident would jeopardise the Syrian ceasefire.