The RAF killed or injured 4,315 enemy fighters in Iraq and Syria between September 2014 and January this year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
Yet the MoD says only one civilian was killed in the airstrikes, according to figures released to the charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).
Of those harmed, 4,013, or 93%, were killed, and 302, or 7%, were injured.
The MoD said its data came from “the best available post-strike analysis” – video and photos taken from the air.
The research charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) obtained the data under freedom of information laws which tracks the RAF’s bomb raids from September 2014 to January 2019.
The data from the MoD, obtained following a Freedom of Information request from AOAV, says:
- In Iraq, 2,994 were killed and 235 wounded
- In Syria, 1,019 died and 67 were hurt
- They were killed by bombing raids from Typhoons (37%) Tornados (31%) and Reapers (32%)
But the AOAV, a research charity, says it believes civilian deaths have been under-reported, as 1,000 targets were hit by the RAF during its bombing campaign in the cities of Raqqa and Mosul.
The US coalition, of which the UK is a member, say they conducted a total of 33,921 strikes between August 2014 and end of January 2019, and at least 1,257 civilians have been unintentionally killed by during this period.
Airwars, an organisation which tracks civilian deaths, believes between 7,500 and 12,077 non-combatants are likely to have died over the same period.
The UK's @DefenceHQ says it can precisely determine that it's killed 4,013 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria since 2014. This is the same MoD which says it's impossible properly to determine civilian harm from its actions, and admits only 1 civilian death: https://t.co/5gTRISZoLG
— Airwars (@airwars) March 7, 2019
The one civilian casualty the UK has said it was responsible for would amount to just 0.09% of all of the coalition’s civilian casualties.
AOAV’s executive director, Iain Overton, said: “The RAF’s claim of a ratio of one civilian casualty against 4,315 enemies must be a world record in modern conflict.”
More should be done to improve transparency about casualties, he added.
AOAV has expressed skepticism that the RAF managed to protect civilians with almost total success as it killed thousands of enemy combatants.
The United Kingdom is at the forefront of the Global Coalition of 79 countries tackling the terrorist network ISIS through military action. After the United States, the UK conducts the most air strikes.
The majority of airstrikes also respond to events occurring on the ground, increasing the risk for civilians, the charity said.