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British IS militant killed in drone strike

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U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron defends the action, tells Parliament that killing Reyaad Khan and two others was “entirely lawful."

Prime Minister David Cameron took parliament by surprise with his announcement that he authorised a targeted airstrike in August this year to eliminate an IS (Islamic State) fighter of British nationality who had planned attacks in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Cameron said that of the two British IS militants who were reported killed this August in Syria, one of them, Reyaad Khan a 21-year old from Cardiff was killed by an RAF drone strike. Two others were killed along with him. The second Briton, Birmingham-born extremist Junaid Hussain was killed by an American air strike.

'Lawful'

Mr. Cameron defended the action as “entirely lawful” and in keeping with international law and procedure. The action taken was “necessary and proportionate” and was cleared by Britain’s Attorney General, he said. His government had evidence that the IS fighter was planning an attack on Britain, and in the absence of a government in Syria with whom Britain could work, the only way to eliminate him was by direct action. He said that Britain would be writing to the UN Security Council informing them of the incident.

“If there is a direct threat and we need to take immediate action, I will take that action,” Mr. Cameron said. He added that he would return to the Commons for a separate vote if the government plans to join air strikes in IS.


The New York Times reports from Washington:

Meanwhile, in an acknowledgment of severe shortcomings in its effort to create and field a force of moderate rebels to battle the IS in Syria, the Pentagon is drawing up plans to significantly revamp the programme by dropping larger numbers of fighters into safer zones as well as providing better intelligence and improving their combat skills.

The proposed changes come after a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda attacked, in late July, many of the first 54 Syrian graduates of the military’s training programme and the rebel unit they came from. A day before the attack, two leaders of the U.S.-backed group and several of its fighters were captured.

The encounter revealed several glaring deficiencies in the programme, according to classified assessments: the rebels were ill-prepared for an enemy attack and were sent back into Syria in too small numbers. They had no local support from the population and had poor intelligence about their foes.

Options before Pentagon

The classified options now circulating at senior levels of the Pentagon include enlarging the size of the groups of trained rebels sent back into Syria, shifting the location of the deployments to ensure local support, and improving intelligence provided to the fighters.

The 54 Syrian fighters supplied by the Syrian opposition group Division 30 were the first group of rebels deployed under a $500 million train-and-equip programme authorised by Congress last year. It is an overt programme run by U.S. Special Forces, and is separate from a parallel covert programme run by the CIA.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 4:51:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/british-is-militant-killed-in-drone-strike/article7626383.ece

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