Didier Reynders and Steven Vandeput deny Belgian involvement in alleged airstrikes in Aleppo region

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput strongly deny the various and repeated accusations brought forward in the Russian media, as well as by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, in relation to alleged airstrikes by Belgian Air Force aircraft at the Hassadjek village in the Aleppo region in the night of 17 to 18 October 2016.

No Belgian Air Force aircraft have been operating over the Aleppo province over the last few days. These accusations are therefore totally groundless and unsubstantiated.

Belgium deeply regrets that no prior consultation has taken place with a view to establishing the facts, before accusations were made in public. This method begs for the wider question as to the motives behind these false accusations towards Belgium and the International Coalition against ISIS.

Within the Coalition, Belgian Air Force aircraft participate in air operations against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria under the strictest of rules of engagement for the use of lethal force.

The paramount concern of our Belgian pilots, even before accomplishing the mission, is to avoid as much as humanly possible any collateral damage to civilians. To achieve this aim, a number of prior verifications are made before any mission is carried out.