Intransparent Belgian Airstrikes against ISIS

Belgium’s track record in Iraq is nothing to be proud of. After expanding air operations into Syria, Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput (N-VA) is not planning to change.

Credit: NGO Airwars — Report “Improving Belgian transparency and public accountability in the war against Daesh”

The Belgian government has decided to use F-16 jet fighters in Syria, after previous deployment in Iraq. The goal is to perform airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group. The decision comes unexpected, since a debate on the topic in the Parliamentary Defense Commission was planned to take place a week later.

If the terrorist group tries to spread lies about airstrikes through propaganda, there is no official data to deny it.

According to NGO Airwars, Belgium is the least transparent country when it comes to reporting airstrikes. (Only Bahrain, that bombed IS just once in Iraq, did worse.) The Belgian Ministry of Defense consistently denies to publish among others details about the location and time of its attacks. [See infograph above]

Airstrike of the Coalition on the Iraqi town of Sinjar, close to the Syrian border. [credit: Domenico / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

That is problematic, says Airwars. Not only because Syrian civilians have the right to know this information, but also because it’s indirectly playing into the hands of IS. If the terrorist group tries to spread lies about airstrikes through propaganda, there is no official data to deny it.

There are alternatives, as countries like Canada or the United Kingdom prove. They regularly report all information. That enabled the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to deny a fake IS story about supposed friendly fire.

“There are no plans to change our reporting on the missions we do”, says Tony Langone, spokesperson of Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput (N-VA) in answer to the question if Belgium will report differently on Syria.

Credit: Tham WyeKheung / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This is a part of an article that was originally published in Dutch at www.mo.be.

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