UK govt says ‘would not hesitate’ to carry out more anti-ISIS drone raids
Royal Air Force (RAF) drones could be used to carry out further airstrikes similar to those revealed on Monday to have killed two Britons fighting for Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL), Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
Fallon denied the government had created a “kill list” of dangerous suspects in Syria, but said they would “not hesitate” in carrying out further attacks.
“It’s the other way around, it’s the terrorists out there in ISIL headquarters in Raqqa in northeast Syria, it’s they who have a kill list,” he said Monday.
“They have plans to mount a series of attack on Britain, our job is to identify those attacks, identify the terrorists and where we can forestall them.
“But if you’re asking me would we hesitate to take similar action again today, tomorrow, next week, absolutely not – we would not hesitate.”
Prime Minister David Cameron is facing backlash among MPs and anti-war campaigners after he revealed Monday that the government had launched an airstrike on Islamic State fighters in Syria which killed two Britons.
Reyaad Khan, a 21-year-old from Cardiff, was the target of the drone strike, which also killed Rahul Amin, another British citizen.
Khan, an ISIS recruiter who has appeared in numerous videos for the extremist group, was considered to be a “clear and present danger” by the authorities when the attack was authorized.
It was reported, erroneously, by a number of media outlets in July that Khan was killed in an American drone strike.
The strike, which took place August 21, was the first time Cameron has authorized an aerial attack against UK citizens in Syria.
There is speculation the families of the killed jihadists could sue the British government in an attempt to gain compensation.
Although Cameron said the authorization adhered to legal process, he refused to publish the legal advice used to justify the move, prompting accusations of an extrajudicial execution.
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve said he expected the families to take court action.
Despite suggestions from Fallon that more drone strikes could be authorized, MPs warned against becoming overly reliant on airstrikes.
Tory MP David Davis called for “constraint” on the targeted killing of extremists.
“I’ve got little doubt that the prime minister acted properly in all of this. That is not the issue. My concern is that if you go down this route then we want to be very wary of ending up like the Americans.
“Obama has every Thursday morning meetings to drop a death list of hits with drones. The result of that? A lot of them hit in Pakistan and killed a lot of innocent people as well. It became counter-productive. It actually made a lot of Pakistanis anti-American and it helps the terrorist movement there,” he said.
The Conservative government is thought to be preparing to take another vote on the authorization of airstrikes in Syria. As leader of the previous, Tory-Liberal Democrat government, Cameron lost a key parliamentary vote to target forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2013.