Skip to main content

Daesh (Syria and Iraq)

Volume 634: debated on Monday 15 January 2018

The Government’s policy on the use of remotely piloted air systems to target Daesh fighters in Syria and Iraq is no different from targeting conducted by a manned aircraft. All UK targeting is conducted in accordance with UK and international law.

Our drones are piloted in the same way as fixed-wing strike aircraft, but the pilots do not have the same service life as pilots in frontline squadrons. Some drone pilots find it difficult to switch between being on live operations and being at home with their families. Will the Secretary of State confirm what support we give to drone pilots, and does it recognise the peculiar circumstances of their role?

We recognise that this is a new form of warfare, and we have been working very closely with those engaged in it, making sure they have that support and that it is put in place before they go on operations, during and after. We are also working very closely with the United States air force to make sure we learn the lessons they have learned over the past few years so that our service personnel might benefit.

The one thing above all else that gives us legitimacy in using force under these circumstances is the rule of law. Further to what he just said, will the Secretary of State confirm that UK operations will always comply with both the rule of law—the law of armed conflict—and the Geneva convention?