Protests in UK against 3000 drone strikes upon Syria, Iraq

Protests in UK against 3000 drone strikes upon Syria, Iraq

LONDON - A group of British anti-war activists have staged a rally in Lincolnshire, asking the government of UK Prime Minister Theresa May to end the country’s drone strikes across the world.

Gathering outside the Royal Air Force (RAF)’s Waddington airbase on Saturday, the protesters said the unmanned aircraft threaten civilians.

The airbase is home to the UK’s 39 Squadron, which operates the highly advanced US-made Reaper drones.

The Reaper can carry 500lb (227kg) bombs and Hellfire missiles. The 39 Squadron first started its operations from the US state of Nevada in 2007 and moved to RAF Waddington in 2013.

Christopher Cole, with the protest organizer Drone Campaign Network, said the protest marked a decade of Britain’s drone operations in other countries and was aimed at raising awareness about the issues that came with drone warfare.

He said the drones "made war too easy", and lowered the threshold for using military force overseas.

According to campaigners, the UK had carried out more than 3,000 drone strikes in Iraq and Syria over the past years.

Cole also questioned government claims that there was no evidence tying British airstrikes to civilian casualties.

"The idea they (UK drone strikes) are precise and don't create civilian casualties is nonsense," he said.

In a new statement, the UK defense ministry said there was an “ever present” risk of “inadvertent” civilian casualties in the US-led coalition’s ongoing airstrikes against purported terrorist positions in Iraq and Syria.

“While we've not seen any evidence that we have caused civilian casualties, that isn't the same as saying we have not or will not do so, especially in close urban fighting against a ruthless terrorist enemy that uses civilians as human shields,” the statement read.

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