Defence news today includes further coverage of HMS Ocean's return to the UK after six months on operations, and reporting on the situation in Mosul.
Coverage continues, including in the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Plymouth Herald, that Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean has returned to her home port of Plymouth after six months on operations in the Mediterranean and the Gulf.
Captain Rob Pedre, the ship's captain, said:
It’s great to be back to Devonport to such an amazing welcome from many hundreds of happy friends and families on the jetty.
It’s a huge honour to bring HMS Ocean home after such an historic and remarkable operational deployment to the Middle East. I am particularly proud of how my ship’s company, their committed dedication to duty, professionalism and good humour, have delivered the fleet flagship through a challenging programme and reinforced the reputation of the Royal Navy as a capable, world-class fighting force.
I’d also like to pay tribute to the stalwart support we have all had from our families and friends who have remained back in the UK, which is invaluable and hugely appreciated. Everyone is delighted to be back with their loved ones again - as can be seen by the large emotional crowds.
Following articles earlier in the week, the FT and The Guardian report on a US review of Rules of Engagement, and write that Coalition aircraft struck three homes in a west Mosul suburb, killing up to 130 people. The MOD's position on this can be seen below.
An MOD spokesperson said:
As operations to liberate western Mosul and Raqqa intensify, the RAF continues to provide precision close air support to ground forces engaged in difficult urban combat. We conduct detailed assessments after each strike and review information from organisations such as Airwars and we have not seen evidence that we have been responsible for civilian casualties so far. Through our rigorous targeting processes we will continue to seek to minimise the risk of civilian casualties, but that risk can never be removed entirely.
There is widespread coverage of the decision by the Court Martial Appeal judges to defer sentencing of Alexander Blackman until next Tuesday. Articles are included in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, The Scotsman, The Herald, and Daily Record.
An MOD spokesperson said:
We have fully co-operated with each stage of Sergeant Blackman’s case, which has now involved a criminal investigation, a court martial and the appeal process, and will continue to provide personal support to the family, as we have done since charges were first brought. We respect the court’s decision and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on it.
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