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Breaking news: UK government admits it is granting arms export licenses for drones allegedly used by Turkey against civilians and journalists

Today the UK government admitted it continues to grant export licenses to UK-based firms exporting drone technology to Turkey

Today, in answer to a parliamentary question from Kate Osamor MP on behalf of the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign, the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, admitted that the UK government is still granting export licenses to EDO MBM Technology Ltd for military items used by the Turkey armed forces.

These items have previously been identified by anti-arms trade campaigners as Hornet Bomb Racks, the mechanism that actually drops the bombs from Turkish drones.

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign knows from speaking to Kurdish forces in Northern Syria that Turkish drones are used extensively and there have been repeated allegations of war crimes committed against civilians. One such incident involving drones is the attack at Ras al-Ain in October 2019, where a convoy of civilians was targeted by Turkish missiles killing at least 14 civilians, including journalists, in a targeted attack. Video footage can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=268809134234841

If it is found that these drone parts have been used by the Turkish army in Libya, this would contravene the UN arms embargo, as the UK government admits.

Today’s admission from the UK government makes it complicit in Turkish drone strikes on civilians in Northern Syria and elsewhere. As such, it is paramount that the UK government urgently investigate Turkey’s use of drone attacks and immediately freeze all weapons sales and revoke licenses to EDO MBM Technology Ltd, based in Brighton. In the last few days, the Turkish military forces have been bombing, with drones and jets, areas of South Kurdistan (northern Iraq) including Makhmour refugee camp which has UNHCR designation, Qandil Mountains area and the Ezidi town of Sengal, where ISIS committed a genocidal attack against the Yezidis in August 2014, killing thousands of Yezidis and taking women as sex slaves.

In strengthening the trade relationship with Turkey, the UK is colluding in a repressive war against Kurds in the Middle East following the Kurdish-led defeat of ISIS. Rather than speaking out against Turkey’s continuation of ISIS’ war on Kurds, the UK government is complicit. We must redouble our efforts to stop exporting weapons to Turkey, weapons that are then used against Kurds and other minority groups in Turkey and the Middle East.

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