Author Topic: UK 'would repeat Syria drone strike'  (Read 144 times)

Description: Mr Fallon said there was "no other way" of stopping Khan, who the prime minister accused of planning "barbaric" attacks on "high-profile public commemorations" in Britain

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UK 'would repeat Syria drone strike'
« on: September 08, 2015, 07:14:55 PM »



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UK 'would repeat Syria drone strike'

Islamic State conflict: UK 'would repeat Syria drone strike'


    8 September 2015

  • From the section UK

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                Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff and Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen travelled to Syria to fight with the so-called Islamic State

Image caption
                    Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff (left), was the target of the strike which also killed Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen


The UK would "not hesitate" to launch more secret drone strikes in Syria to thwart potential terror plots, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.

He said the RAF strike which killed two British Islamic State jihadists was a "perfectly legal act of self defence".

The men were "terrorists who'd been planning a series of attacks", he said.

MPs rejected UK military action in Syria two years ago - and ministers are now facing questions over the attack and calls to publish the legal advice.

Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan, 21, was killed in the precision strike in Raqqa on 21 August by a remotely-piloted aircraft "after meticulous planning", David Cameron told MPs on Monday.

The strike was the first targeted UK drone attack on a British citizen. 

'No other way'

Ruhul Amin, 26, was also killed and later identified as a British national from Aberdeen.

Mr Fallon said there was "no other way" of stopping Khan, who the prime minister accused of planning "barbaric" attacks on "high-profile public commemorations" in Britain.


"There are other terrorists involved in other plots that may come to fruition over the next few weeks and months and we wouldn't hesitate to take similar action again," Mr Fallon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.


                Image copyright
                Ministry of Defence


In his Commons statement, Mr Cameron said the attorney general had been consulted and agreed there was a "clear legal basis" for the strike on Khan.

But questions have been raised over the decision, with acting Labour leader Harriet Harman among those urging the government to publish the legal advice.

She called for "independent scrutiny" of the attack, asking: "Why didn't the attorney general authorise this specific action rather than merely confirming there was a legal basis for it?"

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve said it was possible the decision taken by the government could be "legally reviewed or challenged".


Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent

The law on drone strikes is a subject of debate.

Every nation has the right in international law under the United Nations Charter to defend itself. But how broadly should that be interpreted? When does an attack cease to be legitimate self defence?

The United States has interpreted the law to justify a campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.

It takes the view that it is in a global war against al-Qaeda, among others, and that its citizens are under imminent threat.

That justifies action anywhere in the world, preferably with the consent of the state on whose soil it takes place, but justifiable even if that consent cannot be obtained.

Some are uneasy about that approach and Britain has never subscribed to it. But the UN has not deemed it unlawful.

Monday's announcement might appear to some to signal the UK adopting this US stance.

However, the prime minister was careful not to adopt that position. His words kept the British action firmly within the right to self defence enshrined in the UN Charter.

If the intelligence was sufficient to justify the action, it is likely to be widely accepted as legal. Some, however, will continue to dispute the legality of this action.

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn said "urgent consideration 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".

David Davis, former shadow home secretary, said he believed the strike was justified but warned of "the possibility that this translates or becomes routinised into something like the Americans' position".

And human rights group Reprieve described the air strike as "deeply worrying".

Mohamed Islam, a family friend of Khan's, called for an investigation "to see the truth of this incident", adding it was "very complicated, very sad and very hard" for Khan's family.

Stephen Marvin said his friend Amin had "firmly believed he was fighting for a cause that he believed in and nothing was going to change his mind".

In 2013 MPs rejected UK military action against President Bashar Assad's regime 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".


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