UK 'would repeat Syria drone strike'

UK 'would repeat Syria drone strike'
3 min read
08 September, 2015
Britain's defence secretary says London would not hesitate to use drones 'to prevent attacks' against the UK, a day after a drone strike killed two British citizens in Syria.
Michael Fallon says there are other terrorists plotting against Britain from IS [Getty]

Britain's defence secretary says further drone attacks against suspected extremists in Syria are possible in the coming weeks if plots against Britain are being planned.

Michael Fallon told BBC Radio on Tuesday that the government would not hesitate to use drones to prevent attacks against Britain from coming to fruition.

Fallon spoke one day after Prime Minister David Cameron revealed in Parliament that a missile fired from a Royal Air Force drone had been used in August against three extremists in Syria.

Two Britons were among the dead in the attack on a vehicle in Raqqa, including Reyaad Khan from Cardiff and Ruhul Amin.

The defence secretary says there are other terrorists plotting against Britain from the Islamic State group stronghold inside Syria, but did not specify how many extremists are believed to be actively plotting against Britain.

'Draconian thing to do'

However, human rights groups and some lawyers have criticised the decision to authorise the strike, which was carried out in August.

They said the action mimicked the controversial US drone strike policy and blurred lines on what Britain was prepared to use such tactics for.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve told the BBC it was possible the government's decision could be "legally reviewed or challenged".

"It is a very draconian thing to do, after all the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act give a right to life and the United Kingdom should not interfere with that lightly," he said.

"I very strongly suspect that in view of the fact that this man was a British national with family in this country it will probably lead to a legal challenge in due course."

British tabloids cheered the strike with The Sun's front-page headline reading: "Wham! Bam! Thank You Cam!".

But the main opposition Labour Party has called on the government to publish the legal advice it received and Conservative MP David Davis said there should be a formal check on such decisions.

"The prime Minister and his generals make a decision. Somebody should look and say 'was this the right thing to do, was there enough evidence for this, was this the only way we could sort it out?'.

"Because otherwise it's extra-judicial execution."

Amnesty International UK said Britain had joined the US in conducting "summary executions from the air".

"If we allow this to become the norm, we could have countries all over the world conducting aerial execution of perceived enemies on the basis of secret, unchallengeable evidence," its director Kate Allen said.

British lawmakers voted in 2013 against military action in Syria and Cameron has indicated he would only go ahead with a vote to extend airstrikes from Iraq to Syria if he had cross-party support.

Labour leadership contender and bookkeepers' favourite Jeremy Corbyn, said: "I have questioned the legal basis for the use of drones. Urgent consideration now needs to be given to the appropriate process by which attacks such as this one are sanctioned, on what evidence and on what basis of law."