UK
07/09/2015 11:35 BST | Updated 07/09/2015 13:59 BST

Refugee Crisis: David Cameron Announces Britain Will Take 20,000 Fleeing Syria

David Cameron has announced Britain will take 4,000 Syrian refugees a year until 2020.

His pledge came as the Prime Minister also revealed that two British terror suspects fighting for so-called Islamic State had been killed by RAF drone strikes in Syria, foiling a “barbaric attack” being plotted on home soil by 'Isis' jihadists.

While Cameron would have had to recall MPs to Westminster to announce the killings of the British jihadists before Parliament's return today, many took issue with the conflation of his refugee figure announcement and that of a deadly airstrike in Syria, which were revealed in the same speech.

Others were also quick to point out that the UK will now take less than one fifteenth of the refugee figure committed to by Germany.

david cameron parliament

David Cameron made his speech on Monday

Officials have been working on the new refugee intake scheme over the weekend, after the Prime Minister dramatically U-turned over his opposition to taking more people seeking sanctuary from the deadly Middle Eastern conflict.

Speaking on Monday, Cameron labelled both the migrant and refugee crises "the biggest challenge facing countries across Europe today".

He confirmed that Britain would take 4,000 refugees a year. There are currently over 4 million Syrians registered by the UNHCR with such status.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that British forces had carried out an air strike in Syria to foil a “barbaric attack” being plotted against the UK by 'Isis' jihadists.

isis

Reyaad Khan (left), pictured in an ISIS recruitment video

An RAF-piloted drone conducted a targeted strike to assassinate Reyaad Khan, the British-born radicalist who Cameron claimed was plotting an attack on UK soil.

Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen, were killed by an RAF Reaper drone firing Hellfire missiles at the Isis stronghold of Raqqa in Syria on 21 August.

“We took this action because there was no alternative,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that there was a “clear legal basis” for killing Khan, and that it was an act of “self-defence” which did not require a vote in Parliament.

Asked by Labour's interim leader Harriet Harman if the Welsh jihadist's killing was the first of its kind by Britain, Cameron confirmed: "The answer to that is yes. This is a new departure."

reyaad khan

Reyaad Khan pictured previously at school in Cardiff

Mr Cameron also revealed that another British Isis terror suspect Junaid Hussain was killed in a targeted drone strike by the US Air Force, a few days later on August 24.

The Prime Minister's change in position over how many refugees Britain should take in followed a global outcry after harrowing photos of the body of drowned three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach galvanised public opinion.

Since March 2014, Britain has homed only 216 Syrian refugees. But Kurdi's death last week sparked a petition calling for more people fleeing their war-torn home nation to be taken in, which at one point was garnering over 100 signatures a minute.

aylan and galip kurdi

Aylan (left) and his older brother Galip (right), who also drowned last week

Cameron announced on Friday during a visit to Portugal and Spain that Britain would begin taking significantly higher numbers of refugees, although only directly from camps in countries bordering Syria.

While the proposal would avoid the need for refugees to play into the hands of exploitative people traffickers, critics argue the plan will do nothing to help the tens of thousands who have already travelled to Europe.

The Prime Minister has been adamant, though, that Britain will not join a proposed EU scheme to redistribute some 160,000 people among the 28 member states, despite risking alienating key allies including Angela Merkel.

It came after a home affairs spokesperson for the German Chancellor suggested Cameron's unwillingness to take in any more refugees than the original 216 figure could hurt Britain's plans to renegotiate its relationship with the EU.

Photo galleryNumbers That Show There's Much More To Do To Help Syrian Refugees See Gallery

Stephan Mayer told the Times: "If the British Government is continuing to hold this position that Great Britain is out of the club in this big task in sharing the burden, certainly this could do some harm to the bilateral British-German relationship, and certainly also to David Cameron's ambitions to be successful in the renegotiation.

He added: "I have always had sympathy and understanding for the British role in the EU and the demands for renegotiation.

"But we are now in such a huge humanitarian catastrophe, I do not have any sympathy or understanding for one-country-orientated positions."

Germany has said it expects 800,000 refugees with asylum by the end of 2015.

READ MORE: