May defends UK airstrikes in Syria
UK Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain’s involvement in US-led attacks against Syrian forces was “unintentional” and her country is only seeking to fight the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in the Arab country.
Speaking at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday, the British premier told reporters that Britain would “fully” contribute to investigations about a series of airstrikes by the Western coalition that killed over 60 Syrian government forces in the Syrian city of Dayr al-Zawr on Saturday.
“From the UK’s point of view we are there to deal with Daesh, to deal with the terrorist threat that is Daesh,” she said.
“We would never intentionally strike or focus on Syrian forces,” May added. “But there is an investigation taking place and we will be contributing to that investigation fully.”
The British Ministry of Defence admitted earlier on Monday that UK drones participated in the airstrikes.
According to the Syrian military, the coalition aircraft targeted the positions of Syrian government forces inside an airport surrounded by Takfiri militants.
The incident allowed Daesh to briefly take control over the region before being pushed back by Syrian forces.
The Syrian General Command referred to the incident as a “serious and blatant aggression” against the Syrian army, adding that it was also “conclusive evidence” that the US-led coalition is supporting Daesh militants.
The so-called coalition has been carrying out strikes against the group’s purported positions inside Syria and Iraq since 2014 without a UN mandate or any authorization from Damascus. However, the effort has done little to stop Daesh’s advances in Syria and Iraq.
The UK’s involvement in the US-led campaign against militants in Iraq and Syria stirred controversy after British Special Forces were spotted fighting alongside anti-government militants in Syria.
According to a report published by the Times in early June, British troops have been frequently crossing into Syria to support the so-called New Syrian Army (NSA), who were trained by British and American forces in Jordan.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID), a British government institution responsible for administering foreign spending, estimates that about £5.1 million of British aid for Syria may have ended up in the hands of Daesh.
British authorities also say that at least 800 UK nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside various Takfiri groups.