Without having a parliamentary mandate to take military action, Britain's air force for the first time conducted an air strike in Syria, killing two of its own nationals suspected of fighting for ISIS, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.
Britain has previously carried out air strikes in neighbouring Iraq and acquired intelligence on ISIS by flying drones over Syria. However, unlike the other members of the coalition against ISIS, Britain is not directly targeting ISIS positions in Syria.
Cameron told parliament on Monday that one Briton had been targeted and killed in an air strike conducted by an RAF remotely piloted aircraft in August. Two others travelling with the man – including another Briton- were also killed.
Cameron said that, "There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him. We took this action because there was no alternative."
After reports indicated that he was involved in terror-related activities in Syria, Reyaad Khan - the man targeted in the air strike - had his assets frozen by the British Treasury last year.
"There was clear evidence of the individuals in question planning and directing armed attacks against the UK," Cameron said. "These were part of a series of actual and foiled attempts to attack the UK and our allies."
According to Cameron the air strike was totally lawful, despite being conducted without a parliamentary mandate in place. Moreover, it was the first time in modern history of Britain has used its military presence to conduct such action in a country that is not at a war with.
During his first visit to Iraq, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said that there was no legal obstacle to conducting air strikes in Syria. He said “We’ve been clear that we haven’t ruled out the possibility that the mission may need to take us to Syria in due course.” He also added that “It’s politically more challenging of course. But we’re clear that there is a legal case. There is a legal basis.”