ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that its warplanes have killed or injured 4,315 enemy fighters in Iraq and Syria between September 2014 and January of this year, but critics have called the specificity of the claims unrealistic, especially given that the MoD says only one civilian has been killed in those airstrikes.
Airwars, an organization which tracks civilian deaths, believes that between 7,500 and 12,077 non-combatants are likely to have died over the same period.
On Thursday, the group tweeted, "The UK's @DefenceHQ says it can precisely determine that it's killed 4,013 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria since 2014. This is the same MoD which says it's impossible properly to determine civilian harm from its actions, and admits only 1 civilian death."
The figures were obtained following a Freedom of Information request from the charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). Of those harmed by Royal Air Force bombardment, says the MoD, 4,013 were killed and 302 were injured.
The MoD said its data came from "the best available post-strike analysis," which the BBC contends is made up of "video and photos taken from the air."
The US coalition, of which the UK is a member, say they conducted a total of 33,921 strikes between August 2014 and end of January 2019, and at least 1,257 civilians have been unintentionally killed by during this period.
AOAV Executive Director Iain Overton said, "The RAF's claim of a ratio of one civilian casualty against 4,315 enemies must be a world record in modern conflict."
Lydia Wilson, a research fellow at Oxford University's Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, told the BBC that it was "absurd" to suggest only one civilian was killed "given the pictures we have from the bombardment of Raqqa, Mosul, and other targets in the Islamic State."
"I would ask how the RAF came at their numbers; that is, how they distinguish between fighters and civilians when buildings have collapsed on top of inhabitants, and on-the-ground, independent reporting is impossible."
According to BBC Defense Correspondent Jonathan Beale, "These appear to be extraordinarily precise figures, given the limited intelligence and information the UK has had on the ground in both Iraq and Syria."
"The imagery can provide a lot of detail, but it cannot eliminate uncertainties," Beale continued. "Two people looking at the same imagery can come to different conclusions."