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UK admits killing civilian in airstrike on Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A British Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jet flies over central Iraq, September 21, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The United Kingdom has admitted that its airstrikes, which purportedly targeted the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria, killed a civilian, the first time to acknowledge civilian casualties after media revelations of several deaths.

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a statement on Wednesday that the Royal Air Force strike on three Daesh terrorists in eastern Syria on March 26 also killed a motorcyclist who crossed into the area at the last minute.

The statement comes a day after the BBC quoted a source inside the so-called US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh as saying that he believed civilians had been killed in "several" RAF air raids.

"During a strike to engage three Daesh fighters, a civilian motorbike crossed into the strike area at the last moment and it is assessed that one civilian was unintentionally killed," Williamson said.

"We reached this conclusion after undertaking routine and detailed post-strike analysis of all available evidence," he added.

Back on March 26, the ministry said of the attack that a Reaper remotely-controlled aircraft had tracked "a group of terrorists in a vehicle" in the Syrian Euphrates valley and "successfully destroyed it and its occupants with a precision Hellfire missile attack".

A Turkish-backed militant walks in a street in Tadef, near the city of al-Bab in the northern countryside of Aleppo province, Syria, April 27, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, the ministry on Wednesday provided details about Britain's involvement in the alleged fight against Daesh.

It said that RAF has carried out more than 1,600 aerial attacks in Iraq and Syria, second only to the US.

The statement further said that Britain had around 1,400 military personnel in the region providing "support to local partners".

"British soldiers have trained over 60,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces in engineering, medical, counter-IED and basic infantry skills," it added.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

On December 14, 2017, Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates stated that the US-led coalition was indeed targeting civilian facilities and providing Daesh terrorists with cover.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry also criticized the so-called advocates of human rights and rule of law for turning a blind eye to the atrocities perpetrated by the US-led coalition in Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

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