From Herald Scotland:
THE British government is refusing to accept evidence of civilian fatalities in UK air strikes from human rights groups monitoring the results of bombing raids on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence told the Sunday Herald that it will not investigate reports of deaths on the ground in Syria and Iraq - from anyone but UK military personnel, and 'local forces' deemed friendly.
The UK Government is being urged to launch an immediate investigation after independent monitoring group Airwars reported between 72 and 81 civilian deaths in Iraq could be linked to British air strikes.
In the wake of the report, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) insisted there had been “no reports” from Iraq or Syria of civilian casualties as a result of the UK air campaign.
The MoD insisted it would not consider reports from independent monitoring groups, such as Airwars, which collates information from sources including media reports and civilians on the ground in affected areas.
The MoD claims it relies only on evidence from its own internal surveillance - through aerial assessments or information from evaluations carried out by what it calls 'local forces'. A spokeswoman refused to comment further on what it meant by 'local forces'.
Chris Woods, director of Airwars, which describes itself as a not-for-profit transparency project, said he was “shocked” by the admission by the MoD that it ruled out reports by human rights monitoring organisations.
He said Airwars had uncovered huge discrepancies in incidents being reported when it worked with US Central Command (Centcom) last year on compiling a database of civilian casualties of American bombing missions.
“One of the things that troubled us was that we were aware of three times more alleged civilian casualty incidents than Centcom was,” he said. “Their own internal mechanisms were simply missing two out of three alleged cases on the ground and we ended up sharing our data-set with them, simply so they could begin triggering investigative processes for those events they were unaware of."
Israeli policy is for the Military Advocate General to investigate all reports of civilian casualties during wartime - from human rights groups as well as from Palestinian sourses themselves.
But the British apparently believe that they cannot trust information from any non-British source in the first place.
(h/t Ellis Simpson)