Bishop of Coventry asks about civilian deaths and cost of military action in Iraq

On 11th and 12th October 2017 Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, received written answers from the Government to questions about civilian casualties and the financial cost of armed conflict in Iraq:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry:
 (i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the cost of the UK’s participation in the US led coalition air strikes in support of the liberation of Mosul.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to evaluate the deployment of airpower in heavily populated areas following the liberation of Mosul.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to investigate unintended civilian casualties arising from UK participation in the US led coalition airstrikes to liberate Mosul; and if so, what resources they (1) have committed, and (2) intend to commit, to that investigation.
(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the number of civilians killed during the liberation of Mosul.

 (i) Earl Howe: The net additional costs of counter-Daesh operations are as follows:
2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Total (£ million) 47.2 262.4 469.4

Net additional costs are those costs that the Ministry of Defence would not otherwise have incurred but for the operations.

(ii) (iii) & (iv) Earl Howe: UK airstrikes always follow the principles of international humanitarian law: necessity, proportionality, distinction between combatants and non-combatant civilians, and the prevention of unnecessary suffering. The complex and congested urban environment of Mosul presented particular challenges for those undertaking airstrikes as part of the Coalition support to forces on the ground against Daesh.

Our rigorous targeting processes take into account the conditions on the ground, including the potential presence of a civilian population. We undertake a battle damage assessment after every airstrike. This assessment examines all the available records including video, and one of its roles is the identification of any collateral damage, including civilian casualties. If any such assessment indicated anything that should be scrutinised further, a full investigation would be undertaken, with appropriate resources allocated to it. Thus there is no requirement for a further evaluation of the deployment of UK airpower in the campaign against Daesh.

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