Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that Britain is not in a rush to strike Syria, as it is revealed the Royal Air Force (RAF) has not struck an ISIS target in the country for 11 days.
The admission is slightly at odds with the urgent tone of debate before British MP’s voted on extending airstrikes from Iraq into Syria a couple of weeks ago.
In his first update to the House of Commons since the vote, Hammond told MPs on Wednesday the UK is not “rushing to strike” IS.
Hammond also took the opportunity to claim that no civilian deaths were known to have resulted from UK military action in the region.
“[It] continues to be the case that we have had no reports of civilian casualties as a result of UK airstrikes in either Iraq or Syria.”
The foreign secretary said it was possible that talks in New York on Friday may lead to a United Nations resolution on the same day backing a ceasefire in Syria. He reiterated however that the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains an objective for the UK
According to the Guardian, he said achieving such a breakthrough would be highly challenging and that the Russian bombing campaign in Syria remained unacceptable. Hammond warned that the Russians, by targeting opponents of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, were ensuring that those forces were losing ground. He said Assad’s removal remained a UK objective , but he had no idea what President Putin’s ultimate objective in Syria happened to be.
Insisting failure was not an option, Hammond told MPs: “We have had no reports of civilian casualties as a result of UK airstrikes in either Iraq or Syria.” He stressed that this was different from asserting there had been no civilian casualties.