Air strikes on Iraq during Covid ceasefire

The Peace Pledge Union says the Ministry of Defence faces urgent questions after the Royal Air Force staged air strikes in Iraq

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has said that the UK Ministry of Defence faces urgent questions after it was revealed that the Royal Air Force staged air strikes in Iraq when Boris Johnson was still in hospital. The incident was posted on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 25 April fifteen days after it took place. The PPU called it a ‘brief and vague’ account and pointed out that the bombing took place a week after Dominic Raab offered British support for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 crisis. The PPU said: ‘This is the first known act of aerial bombing by UK troops for seven months.’

The MoD said that the bombing on 10 April (Good Friday) took place west of Tuz Khurma and involved two Typhoon aircraft and a Reaper aircraft. They said they were bombing ‘Daesh terrorists’. However, the PPU said ‘the implication that there were no civilian casualties was almost impossible to believe, given the inaccuracy of so many similar claims in the past’.

Symon Hill, campaigns manager of the PPU, said that the government has urgent questions to answer about whether armed forces leaders consulted ministers about the bombing, and which ministers knew about and approved of it while Boris Johnson was in hospital.

The PPU has also raised concerns that UK government plans for the seventy-fifth anniversary of VE Day on 8 May ‘risks trivialising the suffering of millions of people by turning the anniversary into a party’. The government announced last year that it would move the May Bank Holiday Monday to VE Day for this year’s seminal anniversary. Boris Johnson will broadcast to the country and extracts from Winston Churchill’s speeches will be played on the radio. The government is also encouraging people to place an image of a world war two soldier in their window, and stage a ‘1940s-style’ tea party at home.

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