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Secret State 20: Britain at war with more than 1600 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq

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Denials wear thin: Britain is at war with more than 1600 airstrikes in Syria and IraqDeborah Haynes, Defence Editor of the Times reports the killing of a civilian by RAF drone in Syria.

The air strike was by a Reaper drone, remotely operated by pilots in the UK or an airbase in the United States.

Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, has admitted that on March 26th, a British airstrike killed a motorcyclist who rode into its path in Syria by chance. It is the first confirmation of a civilian casualty by UK forces in the fight against Islamic State.

The unintentional death, described by Williamson as “deeply regrettable”, was confirmed during post-strike analyses of drone footage and other imagery.

The official position of the Ministry of Defence until yesterday’s announcement had been that it had seen no evidence of UK airstrikes causing civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria.

A source within the US-led coalition against Isis, however, told the BBC that he had seen evidence that British airstrikes had caused civilian casualties “on several occasions”. “To suggest they have not, as has been done, is nonsense,” the source added.

The coalition has begun an investigation and will issue a report. The airstrike was by a Reaper drone, remotely operated by pilots in the UK or at an airbase in the United States.

The defence secretary admits that RAF jets and drones have conducted more than 1,600 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq and Airwars, a group that has been monitoring civilian casualties, claimed it was likely that between 1,066 and 1,579 civilians had died in the fighting in Mosul. The US and Australia have accepted responsibility for civilian casualties. The coalition has admitted causing just over 350 civilian deaths in Mosul.

The deaths, in particular those of women and children, have helped to turn local populations against coalition forces and fuel insurgencies.

A Wimbledon reader sends news that Amnesty International has cited another civilian death: 68-year-old Mamana Bibi was picking vegetables in the family’s fields with her

grandchildren in Waziristan, northwest Pakistan. ’Out of nowhere’, she was hit during a double drone strike led by the US. Mamana is one of hundreds of civilians accidentally killed by US drone strikes. Strikes that the UK has been playing a crucial part in.

Despite the lack of coverage in many newspapers and on TV bulletins, a petition has been set up, calling for the UK government to launch a full public inquiry into its role in the US’s expanding drones programme:

To join this call for a full public inquiry into Britain’s role in the US’s expanding drones programme, go to https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/uk-stop-helping-deadly-and-secret-us-drone-strikes

 

 

 

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Bargain: we won’t talk about your issues with Tibet, workers’ rights etc if you ignore our invasions, our displacement of Chagossians and illegal executions by drone

cameron xi

 

 

 

As the government ‘scrambles’ (the Nikkei-FT’s expression) to agree a number of Chinese inward investment deals, involving infrastructure, high tech, banking and other financial services for official signing ceremonies, Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, has warned that the Chinese president would not take kindly to being reprimanded on human rights during his visit.

Mr Xi Jinping will spend four nights in Britain next week, visiting Buckingham Palace, giving a speech at Westminster and visiting the City of London and Manchester. He is to make a speech at Guildhall next Wednesday at which it is hoped he will set out how he hopes to make London the global centre for offshore Chinese finance.

In contrast with more excitable accounts (Corbyn threatens), the FT reports that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to raise the issue next week at a private meeting with the Labour leader.

“We don’t shy away from talking about human rights,” Mr Liu told a press briefing. “What we are against is to use human rights to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs and to try to impose your own system on to others.”

The tabloid press hoping for eyecatching headlines and unflattering photographs of a clash when Xi and Corbyn meet at the state banquet will probably be disappointed. Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said the Labour leader would express his views “in the appropriate way”.

US government legalises drone technology for commercial purposes as well as illegal slaughter

The leader of the ‘free world’ insists drones are safe, despite 400 major accidents, and governments salivate as the drone industry, which lobbied Congress to pass the new law, predicts $82 billions in ‘economic benefits’ and 100,000 new jobs by 2025.

Two crashes were recorded at the Seychelles International Airport

Two crashes were recorded at the Seychelles International Airport

Mark Shapiro draws our attention to news of more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. The link he sent led to other information, including a detailed 2012 Business Mega account. Documents obtained by the Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenge the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes.

Under the 2012 law passed by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration is to issue rules by September 2015 allowing commercial drone flights drones in civilian airspace. There is a wide demand:

  • Law enforcement agencies already own a small number of camera-equipped drones,
  • Businesses see profitable possibilities for drones, to tend crops, move cargo, inspect real estate or film Hollywood movies.
  • Journalists have applied for drone licenses to cover the news.
  • Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos (who owns the Washington Post) wants his company to use autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers’ doorsteps.

Disrupted by smart phones?

An Australian triathlete was injured after a (non-military) drone crash in April. She and spectators said the UAV crashed into her but the drone’s owner said she was merely startled. Someone else in the crowd of spectators had briefly taken control of the drone. The cameraman said it would be difficult to find out who had done this, because smartphones could easily be used to carry out such an attack.

This is another immature technology. Nuclear systems were installed well before there was any appreciation of the problem of long-lived toxic waste and research scientists were deceived into thinking they were devising a clean and cheap energy source. The most principled left the industry when they learnt that their brainchild was to be used to make highly lethal and toxic weapons.


Read more here:

http://dronewarfare.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/us-defense-department-confident-drones-are-safe-despite-400-major-accidents/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/06/20/when-drones-fall-from-the-sky/

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/river-of-blood-after-drone-hits-australian-athlete-20140407-zqruh.html

http://business.mega.mu/2012/12/04/drone-crashes-mount-civilian-airports/

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