Britain begins bombardment of ISIL targets in Syria
WASHINGTON — British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Defense Secretary Ash Carter held a joint press conference Friday to speak about the recent vote by the British House of Commons to participate in airstrikes in Syria.
The United Kingdom has been involved in the coalition force, Operation Inherent Resolve, since its inauguration in 2014. However, the vote now allows the Royal Air Force to strike targets within Syria.
Britain is already providing up to 60 percent of the coalitions tactical reconnaissance and up to a third of the precision strike capabilities, according to Fallon.
“We have brought more planes to the region, and we have more than doubled the number of missions that we fly by day and by night,” Fallon said about the country’s involvement.
A press release by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense stated the RAF conducted six strikes against ISIL controlled oilfields in the region of Omar, Syria.
The RAF claimed no civilian casualties in their operations in Syria stating “they used the aircraft’s advanced sensors,” adding, “our initial analysis of the operation indicates that the strikes were successful.”
Independent monitoring groups such as Airwars.org and Human Rights Watch assert that coalition claims of civilian casualties are underreported or often wrong. Airwars believes there have been 600 to 2000 civilian deaths with the coalition only reporting 2.
Earlier this month Carter spoke before the House Armed Services Committee and outlined the United States’ strategy to defeat ISIL, which included striking oil fields. A key part of the groups infrastructure.
“We’ve destroyed nearly 400 of ISIL’s oil tanker trucks,” Carter said to the committee, adding, “there’s more to come too.”
Carter took the time Friday to reiterate the partnership between the two countries and called it a “special relationship.”
It is unclear if the United Kingdom will participate in other strategies the Department of Defense is planning to use to defeat ISIL, such as the addition of special operation forces.
The DoD’s strategy to counter ISIL doesn’t only include Iraq and Syria. Carter described ISIL as a “tumor” that has “metastasized elsewhere.” Carter stated the DoD plans to move it’s anti-ISIL strategy to cover areas in “Afghanistan, the Levant, East Africa, and Southern Europe.”
As of November 15, the total cost of OIR is $5.2 billion with the average daily cost being $11 million, according to the DoD.