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AOAV’s written evidence published for inquiry into UK Military Operations in Mosul and Raqqa

In response to the call for submissions for the Defence Committee’s inquiry into UK Military Operations in Mosul and Raqqa, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) provided written evidence on the civilian harm recorded from these operations.

The written evidence can be seen here.

The evidence provided by AOAV highlights the notable rise in civilian deaths from airstrikes last year, particularly in Mosul and Raqqa.

In 2017 there was a 38% increase in civilian deaths from explosive violence compared to the previous year. A death toll that is, in large part, down to the increase in air-strikes, with 14,344 civilians recorded killed or injured by air-launched attacks, meaning 44% more were harmed in 2017 than in 2016 from such weaponry.

In the lead up to the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa, Civilian casualties not only rose exponentially, but eclipsed casualty figures for armed actors. There was a conspicuous decrease in civilian casualties in the months after liberation in both cities. In Mosul and Raqqa in 2017, air-launched weapons – primarily fighter-bomber aircraft or drone-launched – accounted for more civilian casualties than all other weapon systems combined.

In 2017, AOAV recorded a total of 195 air-launched events – out of 249 explosive events in general – in Raqqa city, resulting in 2,200 civilian casualties. In contrast, only 71 armed actor deaths were recorded. Raqqa Governorate witnessed 339 air-launched events, and resulted in 3,604 civilian casualties.

In Mosul, 145 air-launched attacks were recorded in 2017, with 2,923 civilian casualties. Nineveh witnessed 172 air-launched attacks that resulted in 3,082 civilian casualties.

The evidence concludes that: “Coalition forces’ civilian casualty figures as a whole drastically underestimate the number of civilian casualties caused by air-launched weapons, particularly when such weapons target urban areas. This is demonstrated by AOAV’s figures for Mosul city and Raqqa city in 2017.”

It is this inconsistency that AOAV asks the Defence Committee to scrutinise.