Friday, 24 March 2017
Letter to the Prime Minister on the Al Badiya school bombing
PDF version here.
The Right Honourable Theresa May
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
24 March 2017
Dear Ms May,
We were writing this letter about recent incidents in Syria when the shocking events at Westminster occurred, and we wanted before anything else to share the sense of grief and outrage felt across the community.
Without diminishing the tragedy of this event, especially for its victims, it also acts to strengthen our parallel concern for the loss of life arising from certain actions in Syria for which we feel the British government shares some responsibility. There are now credible reports of a Coalition airstrike on the al Badiya school, west of Raqqa, a shelter for many refugee families, with probably at least 50 civilians killed (mainly women and children) with many sources estimating significantly more.
This seems to be part of an emerging pattern of conspicuous disregard for civilian casualties in the current military campaign against ISIS. It includes the attack on the al Jina mosque last week that killed at least 50 civilians, and such incidents seem to be growing. The monitoring group Airwars estimates at least 2,700 innocent men, women and children have been killed in the Coalition’s anti-ISIS bombing campaign thus far.
We are writing to ask the British government to immediately investigate the responsibility for al Badiya, and for similar attacks, to make known its findings and, more broadly, to review the priority the Coalition is giving to civilian protection.
While many of these attacks are conducted by US forces, the UK is a major partner in the Coalition, with a British officer as deputy commander, and therefore carries joint responsibility for such actions. Moreover, we note that the Ministry of Defense has acknowledged that the RAF is conducting bombing operations in the Raqqa area.
We share the all-important aim of ridding Syria of the barbaric ISIS regime along with supporting the democratic opposition to the no less brutal Assad regime. But, unlike such regimes, we must not be indifferent to civilian lives and suffering; those who have lived under ISIS have suffered enough.
We urge the government to demand from the US the halt of the unacceptable loss of civilian life, which is in danger of becoming a distinguishing mark of this campaign.
Fadel Moghrabi, Peace and Justice in Syria
Yasmine Nahlawi, Rethink Rebuild, Manchester
Dr Sharif Kaf–al Ghazal, Syrian Association of Yorkshire
Malcolm Allen, Syria Solidarity UK
Dr Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Syrian Welsh Society
Mazen Ejbaei, Help 4Syria
Dr Amer Masri, Scotland For Syria
Abdullah Hanoun, Syrian Community in the South West
Reem Assil, Syrian Platform for Peace
Dr Bachar Hakim, Syrian Society of Nottinghamshire