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Islamic State conflict: Two Britons killed in RAF Syria strike

From BBC  News 7/9/15

Two British Islamic State jihadists who died in Syria were killed by an RAF drone strike, David Cameron has said.

Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan, 21, and Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen, died last month in Raqqa, alongside another fighter, in the first targeted UK drone attack on a British citizen, Mr Cameron told MPs.

Khan - the target - had been plotting "barbaric" attacks on UK soil, he said.

The "act of self defence" was lawful, despite MPs previously ruling out UK military action in Syria, the PM said.

Khan was killed in a precision strike on 21 August by a remotely piloted aircraft, "after meticulous planning", while he was travelling in a vehicle.

Another British national, Junaid Hussain, 21 and from Birmingham, was killed in a separate air strike by US forces in Raqqa on 24 August.

Both Khan and Hussain had been involved in actively recruiting IS "sympathisers" and plotting to attack "high-profile public commemorations" taking place in the UK this summer, the prime minister said.

The attorney general had been consulted and agreed there was a "clear legal basis" for the strike on Khan, Mr Cameron added.

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman urged the government to publish the legal advice.

Downing Street said it was a "long-standing convention that we do not publish advice of the law officers".

'Directing murder'

Two years ago MPs rejected possible UK military action in Syria, but last September approved British participation in air strikes against IS targets in Iraq only.

However, officials said the UK would "act immediately [in Syria] and explain to Parliament afterwards" if there was "a critical British national interest at stake".

The strike on Khan was "the first time in modern times that a British asset has been used to conduct a strike in a country where we're not involved in a war", the PM confirmed.

"Of course Britain has used remotely piloted aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan but this is a new departure and that's why I thought it important to come to the House and explain why I think it is necessary and justified."

Mr Cameron told MPs: "My first duty as prime minister is to keep the British people safe."

In reference to Khan, he added: "There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him.

"This government does not for one moment take these decisions lightly.

"But I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done."

                                                                                                           

                   

David Cameron faces legal challenge over drone attack that killed two British Isis fighters in Syria

From The Independent

Green party politicians join forces with human rights charity Reprieve to start judicial review process against decision to kill targets in Syria

 

David Cameron is facing a legal challenge over his decision to authorise drone attacks that killed two British Isis fighters in Syria last month.

The Prime Minister defended the attack – the first time an RAF strike has targeted a British citizen in a foreign country – insisting it was “entirely lawful” and said the Government was “exercising Britain’s inherent right in self-defence”.

But the Green party’s MP Caroline Lucas and peer Baroness Jones have joined with human rights charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day to start the process of a judicial review over the Government’s “targeted killing” of people in countries where Britain is not at war.

In a Letter Before Action (LBA) they have claimed they argue that the Prime Minister either failed to formulate a “targeted killing policy” or failed to publish it , which they claim are both positions that are illegal under domestic and international law.

The Green party claims that a “combination of faulty intelligence and a lack of safeguards has seen hundreds of civilians killed” by US drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen and fear the RAF attack in Raqqa last month will create a precedent for future secret killings without seeking parliamentary approval.

The Coalition failed to win parliamentary backing for airstrikes against President Assad’s regime in 2013 and since then the situation has complicated further, with Isis taking control of large swathes of northern Syria.

It has led to what ministers have described as the “absurd” situation where Britain is carrying out airstrikes on the jihadi terrorist organisation in Iraq but not Syria. Mr Cameron has signalled his intention to seek another parliamentary vote to approve strikes in Syria, but the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader could thwart the move.

He wants to see a diplomatic drive instead of airstrikes, bringing together a coalition of neighbouring countries, Russia, the US and the EU to look for a political solution to the conflict.

Mr Corbyn has also questioned the legal basis for the RAF strikes, which killed Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen, on August 21.

Mr Cameron announced the attack in a statement to MPs in the House of Commons earlier this month, but has refused to disclose what evidence led him to give the go-ahead.

It has since emerged that he has approved a secret hit-list of around 10 Isis fighters who the RAF can take out at a moment’s notice if the opportunity arises.

 

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