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Saturday 21 January 2017

Confirmed: World Food Programme used JPADS for Deir Ezzor aid drops

  • These GPS guided parachutes can fly 25km to a precise landing point.
  • UK refuses to use JPADS airdrops system to aid civilians under attack from Hezbollah and Assad.

The World Food Programme’s representative for Syria, Jakob Kern, has confirmed that the agency has used FireFly JPADS for aid airdrops to Deir Ezzor. Around 25 JPADS parachutes have been used to drop mostly medical aid to the regime held town which is besieged by ISIS.

JPADS airdrops form just part of the WFP effort: overall the World Food Programme has made 177 air drops in nine months to Deir Ezzor. The World Food Programme has never made a single aid drop to any territory besieged by the Assad regime or its Iranian-backed ally Hezbollah. The vast majority of besieged areas are under siege from the regime.

The particular advantage with JPADS is that the system uses GPS navigation to remotely guide the parachute to a precise landing point. The drop can be made by planes at a standoff distance 25 kilometres away from the impact point, and at an altitude of 24,500 feet above sea level, high enough to be safe from MANPADS surface to air missiles. This means that JPADS could be used to drop aid to areas besieged by Hezbollah by planes flying outside Syrian airspace.

Last year, NGOs pressed for JPADS to be used to drop aid to besieged civilians in Aleppo City. The proposal was for aid to be dropped from RAF or NATO planes flying beyond regime controlled territory; the JPADS parachutes would then have flown under remote GPS guidance the final 25 kilometres to three designated landing points in Aleppo city.

In a December letter to NGOs, Prime Minister Theresa May contrived to ignore this fully viable safe option for helping civilians and for countering Hezbollah and Assad’s forced removal of populations.

The UK’s failure to deploy this available technology for the relief of besieged civilians helped speed their forced displacement from Aleppo city.

Assad and Hezbollah are now doing the same again in areas between Damascus and the Lebanon border, forcing out Sunni majority populations in order to replace them with people supportive of Hezbollah, Assad, and Iran. Western inaction on this is worsening the refugee crisis, and contributing to the entrenchment of Hezbollah—a proscribed terrorist organisation—across a wide portion of Syrian territory.

Theresa May’s refusal to act makes the UK complicit in Hezbollah’s campaign of ethnic cleansing in Syria.

Earlier: GPS guided parachutes are being used for arms drops in Syria – but the UK refuses to use them for aid drops.