The British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced he will be doubling the number of drones the country’s armed forces use in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Cameron made the statement in a post on Twitter on Sunday, adding his government would also increase funding to special forces units to “combat the terrorist threat”.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, the prime minister said the country will stengthen its current fleet of 10 Reaper drones to 20.
The unmanned planes will be used to target members of ISIL, including British citizen Mohammed Emwazi, also known as ‘Jihadi John’, Cameron said.
Emwazi carried out a series of murders on camera on behalf of the group, beheading two fellow British nationals, aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, as well as three US citizens, and two Japanese men.
Cameron also announced hundreds of millions of dollars worth of support for UK special forces units.
“One of the biggest threats we have to respond to is that terrorist threat and that means a lot of things in terms of obviously domestic security and our intelligence services but it also means making sure that we have the military equipment and resources we need,” Cameron told the newspaper.
Last month the UK announced it had killed two British ISIL members in a drone strike in Syria, the first such strike the government has acknowledged.
Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, who died in the attack, had appeared in a ISIL propoganda video threatening to attack British targets.
Amnesty International said the attacks were “extremely alarming” and compared them to summary executions.
Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer specialising in counter-terrorism at Liverpool John Moores University, told Al-Jazeera, Cameron was “routinising extrajudicial assassination and expanding its assault on the rule of law.”
“Drones have been proven to be highly counterproductive in reducing the threat of terrorism since they act as a recruiting sergeant..their use will therefore increase the threat of terrorism to the UK and its interests, not reduce it,” Sabir said.
It’s estimated about 600 British citizens have travelled to Syria to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, with many joining ISIL.
British authorities worry some of those who have gone to fight with the group may return to carry out attacks on its territory.
Additional reporting by Shafik Mandhai