UK
17/09/2015 09:04 BST | Updated 17/09/2015 16:59 BST

UK Air Strikes Have Killed 330 Islamic State Fighters In Past Year, Defence Secreary Michael Fallon Reveals

UK air strikes are believed to have killed around 330 Islamic State (IS) fighters in the past year but the figure is "highly approximate", the Defence Secretary has said.

Michael Fallon said the number covers the period from September last year until the end of last month, but was "highly approximate", the Press Association reported.

British extremists Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin were killed by a drone strike in the IS stronghold of Raqqah on August 21.

michael fallon

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said 330 Islamic State fighters have been killed in UK air strikes in the past year

Downing Street said the decision to authorise the use of remote RAF aircraft to strike individuals in Syria plotting attacks on the UK was taken "some months ago".

A meeting of senior members of the National Security Council, chaired by David Cameron earlier this year, received advice from the Attorney General that drone attacks would be legal on grounds of self-defence.

Mr Fallon, answering a written question from Green MP Caroline Lucas, said the Government does not believe any civilians have been killed or injured by the strikes against IS.

He wrote that the figure was "highly approximate, not least given the absence of UK ground troops in a position to observe the effects of strike activity".

He added: "We do not believe there have been any civilian casualties as a result of UK strike activity. Any overall estimates would be a matter for the coalition."

ruhul amin

Ruhul Amin, left, from Aberdeen was killed in airstrikes along with Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said drone attacks are "legally questionable".

He called for a "rapid political development" as a way to end the violence in Syria, where forces loyal to president Bashar Assad, rebels opposed to his rule and IS extremists have torn the country apart.

Mr Corbyn, chairman of the Stop the War coalition, is expected to oppose any proposal to expand the air campaign against IS.

The Prime Minister has indicated he could be prepared to seek Parliament's approval to extend the bombing campaign against IS from Iraq into Syria.

Amnesty International UK’s Control Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said Mr Fallon's estimate of casualties was "highly unsatisfactory" and called for him to provide exact figures.

He said: “We’ve been here before, with NATO and US-led coalitions talking of ‘precision’ airstrikes only for the world to discover that numerous civilians have actually been killed.

“The defence secretary must provide parliament and the public with proper information about the nature of these strikes, about how people were targeted and, crucially, how he’s arrived at his claim of there being no civilian casualties.

“There should be an independent investigation into the UK’s recent airstrikes, not unsubstantiated ministerial claims.”

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