SNP pushes for investigation over unauthorised drone killings of UK citizens in Syria


Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) set up to scrutinise military and spy activities

THE DECISION to target British militant fighters in Syria without the support or awareness of parliament must face an investigation from the Intelligence and Security Committee, according to the Scottish National Party.

On Monday [7 September] Prime Minister David Cameron revealed that a UK drone strike had killed British citizens Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin on 21 August.

Cameron conceded the action was a “departure” from previous UK policy, but he defended the decision on the grounds of anti-terrorism decisions and the need to expand military action against Daesh (Islamic State).

However, the drone bombing raid and killing of UK citizens has been criticised by Amnesty International and anti-war campaign CAGE , who argue extra judicial killing is a dangerous precedent.

In 2013 the UK parliament voted against military action in Syria.

On the need for a parliamentary review of drone strikes, Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson MP said: “There must be a review of UK drone-strike policy by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee which is responsible for looking at sensitive intelligence and security matters.

“This important committee has never met since the General Election and it is the responsibility of the prime minister to help reconstitute it. I believe its first business should be to review UK drone strike policy which has changed dramatically, to include areas where military action has not been sanctioned by parliament.

“The UN Charter allows states to use lethal force in self-defence and the Intelligence and Security Committee should be able to review the evidence that justified this attack.”

Robertson has been appointed to the ISC, which has the power to investigate the UK military and security forces.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that at least 10 Britons, and potentially as many as 20, have been killed in US and UK drone strikes.

In response to questions from Robertson, Cameron said he would discuss an investigation with the new chair of the ISC after they were elected. However, he added that the committee would not be expected to scrutinise “current operations”.

UK drone strikes are part of ongoing wars across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is currently bombing Yemen, a US-led coalition is at war with Daesh (Islamic State) in Syria and Iraq, the Syrian government is in the midst of an ongoing civil war with rebel forces and Turkey has launched attacks on the Kurdish PKK. The Kurds are also combatting Daesh.

Picture courtesy of Defence Images