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Monday, 07 December 2015 (3073500)
Author hits out at Syria air strikes
by Tom Martin

AN international journalist from Crosby who writes about foreign conflict has hit out at the government's decision to bomb parts of Syria.

Rory O'Keeffe, a former Holy Family High School pupil, has previously visited Libya and Tunisia before penning his experiences in speaking with local people about war.

The author has recently questioned the logic in approving airstrikes on terrorist-controlled parts of Syria and claims there are “serious flaws in the plan”.

On December, 3, MPs overwhelmingly backed UK air strikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria, by 397 votes to 223, after a ten-hour Commons debate.

Rory, who is an expert commentator on conflict and socio-political issues in the Maghreb and Western Middle East region, has sided with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the belief that sending RAF jets to the war-torn country is not the answer.

Rory said: “The bombing will kill innocent civilians. We know this because it has in every single air campaign, everywhere in the world, ever carried out.

”Since the ‘yes’ vote in Parliament, representatives of the RAF have spoken on TV and radio about how the UK uses Paveway IV missiles, confidently declaring that these ‘do not cause collateral damage’.

“The fact is, however, that what they mean is that Paveway IV missiles are less likely to cause collateral damage because their explosive charge and shrapnel production rates are deliberately designed to be lower than other missiles’.

”That is a positive thing. But it ignores the fact that in order for that to be effective in reducing collateral damage, the missiles will have to strike their intended targets. Not only is that impossible to guarantee, it is also heavily-reliant on on-the-ground intelligence, which in Libya led to the systematic bombing of schools, universities, houses and hospitals.

“Syrian people in Syria don’t want this bombing; Syrian people in the UK oppose it; the majority of the UK population is against it, and NATO military experts and our own experience says it won’t work. Yet, 395 MPs voted for it, and just 221 against it.

”That is not ‘representation’. Nor is it ‘expertise’. It is not even common sense. It is the commitment by the few to a potentially endless war in a state – and a region – which simply needs and deserves peace.“

Rory was co-editor of the Everton FC fanzine 'Gwladys Sings the Blues from 1994-97', and went on to become a journalist at a local newspaper.

He left the UK in 2011 to work in Tunisia and Libya following the first Libyan Civil War to work in communications for international aid organisations in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa.

He then penned a book called ‘The Toss of a Coin' where refugees from across Africa and the Middle East tell their own stories in their own words.


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