Britain's RAF claims its kill count from bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq is 4,012 fighters, and exactly 1 civilian

Britain's RAF claims its kill count from bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq is 4,012 fighters, and exactly 1 civilian

RAF ISIS strike

(UK's Ministry of Defence/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

An image shared by the UK Ministry of Defence showing an in-progress air strike on Iraq in 2014.

  • Britain's Royal Air Force has killed more than 4,000 ISIS fighters in air strikes over the past 4 years, according to new data.
  • The UK's Ministry of Defence claims that it only killed one civilian in these strikes, which would mean it was 99.75% accurate in targeting only combatants.
  • Conflict experts expressed skepticism over this ratio, and called for more transparency.

Britain's Royal Air Force only caused one civilian casualty while killing more than 4,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to new figures from the country's Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The research charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) obtained the data under freedom of information laws which tracks the RAF's bomb raids from September 2014 to January 2019.

AOAV has expressed skepticism that the RAF managed to protect civilians with almost total success as it killed thousands of enemy combatants.

Ian Overton, the charity's executive director, said: "'The RAF's claim of a ratio of one civilian casualty against 4,315 enemies must be a world record in modern conflict. Yet few conflict experts believe this to be true. "


The 4,315 figure includes those who were wounded as well as those killed.

RAF david cameron

(Dan Kitwood-Pool/Getty Images)

Then-British Prime Minister David Cameron meets pilots at RAF Akrotiri base on October 2, 2014 in Akrotiri, Cyprus.

Read more: 13 intense images of the rise and fall of ISIS, the feared group that has re-surged from previous defeats

The United Kingdom is at the forefront of the Global Coalition of 79 countries tackling the terrorist network ISIS through military action. After the United States, the UK conducts the most air strikes.

The MoD data shows that of the 4,315 combatants it killed or injured, 75% were in Iraq. The other 25% were in Syria.


According to AOAV's analysis, most RAF strikes on Mosul and Raqqa, former ISIS strongholds, were aimed at buildings.

The majority of airstrikes also respond to events occurring on the ground, increasing the risk for civilians, the charity said.

Read more: ISIS is going to lose the last of its territory in Syria in a 'couple of weeks,' the Pentagon says

The RAF told the charity that its numbers are up-to-date in the time of issue, but can only ever be estimates, given that the UK has no presence on the ground to assess the strikes.

A spokesperson for the MoD explained the methodology to The Guardian: "After every British airstrike we conduct detailed battle damage assessment, which thoroughly examines the outcome of the strike against its target, be it Daesh [ISIS] fighters, weapons, or bases.


"This assessment also looks very carefully at whether or not there has been any civilian casualty or damage to civilian infrastructure."