RAF kill an estimated 242 enemy combatants in Iraq

The Ministry of Defence has released figures giving the estimated number of enemy combatants killed in Iraq from RAF air strikes. An estimated 242 enemy combatants were killed between October 2014 and May 2015, the highest number falling in January 2015, with 50 deaths. The Ministry says there are no known incidents of civilians being killed as a result of RAF air strikes in Iraq since September 2014.

The Ministry of Defence makes it clear these are estimated figures only as it is not usually possible to verify categorically the numbers killed because of the risks involved in doing so. The figures were given in a Freedom of Information response released on 6 July 2015.

The release of an estimated figure is unusual because Ministers have been reluctant to provide estimates of casualties in Iraq. Last year the then Defence Minister Mark Francois could not provide a figure for ISIL casualties in response to a Parliamentary Question, saying: “An accurate count of ISIL casualties cannot always be made in this type of environment.” (PQ 210712).

Mr Francois gave a similar explanation in 2011 when asked about allegations of civilian casualties in the Libya military operation, which was similarly conducted largely by air strikes. Mr Francois explained the absence of UK ground forces meant “contemporaneous verification from within the country” of allegations of civilians casualties was practically impossible.

Details of RAF airstrikes are available on the Ministry of Defence website: Air strikes in Iraq. See also the Commons Briefing Paper ISIS/Daesh: the military response in Iraq and Syria.