The Sun's front page was lambasted on Tuesday for glorifying "summary executions" after it emerged that the Prime Minister authorised RAF drone strikes in Syria, killing two Britons fighting with Islamic State militants, without parliament's approval.
David Cameron told the Commons on Monday that Reyaad Khan, a 21-year-old from Cardiff who was killed in the attack on the Syrian city of Raqqa on 21 August, represented a “clear and present danger” saying the strike was an act of “self defence”.
Two other Isis fighters were killed by an unmanned aerial drone, one of whom was Brit Ruhul Amin, 26. A third Briton, Junaid Hussain, 21, was killed by a separate US airstrike three days later as part of a joint operation.
The Sun led with "Wham! Bam! Thank you Cam", with the portraits of two British jihadists in crosshairs above a RAF drone.
It is understood that commemorative events attended by the Queen were targets of the terrorists, notably VE Day commemorations on May 10 and a ceremony to mark the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Armed Forces Day on June 27.
A number of human rights organisations have condemned Cameron's actions, with both Amnesty International and Reprieve raising concerns about following the United States down a “lawless road” by conducting “summary executions from the air”.
Yet Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has defended the government's drone strikes, saying he “would not hesitate to do it again”, signalling that the British military had drawn up a terrorist "kill list".
Most national newspapers on Tuesday led with the drone strikes, although their tones varied widely, with The Sun and Daily Mail congratulating the Prime Minister while The Guardian and The Times took a more measured approach.
Many were quick to point out the common thread running through the Sun's choice of front pages. On Monday, it led with "COWARDS: Leadership rivals won't back raids on IS to end migrants crisis."
The Sun: Weeks ago = "Ignore refugees!". Monday = "Bomb Syria for a dead child!". Tuesday = Glorifies air strikes. It needs Rebecca Brooks!— Joe Dharampal-Hornby (@Joe_DH) September 7, 2015
I feel sickened that a national newspaper @thesun can be so depraved to celebrate extra-judicial murder - we live in a fascist Hell.— Amy Wyatt (@Lewisno1fan) September 8, 2015
Tuesday's Daily Mail front page led with: "They got what they deserved", which also caused dismay amongst some readers.
Labour MP Diane Abbott voiced her anger at Tuesday morning's front pages, pointing out that it is "only a matter of time" before a civilian is killed in a RAF drone strike.
Despite media triumphalism, only a matter of time before RAF drone strikes kill civilians pic.twitter.com/xAmCoULON8— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) September 8, 2015
While most national newspapers led with Cameron authorising the drone strikes, the tone varied markedly, with The Guardian and The Times taking a less sensationalist stance.
Human rights organisations have spoken out against Cameron following in the footsteps of the US.
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said it was "extremely alarming" the government had followed the United States "down a lawless road".
"In following the United States down a lawless road of remote-controlled summary killings from the sky, the RAF has crossed a line."— AmnestyUK Media Team (@NewsFromAmnesty) September 7, 2015
"We could have countries all over the world conducting aerial execution of perceived enemies on basis of secret, unchallengeable evidence."— AmnestyUK Media Team (@NewsFromAmnesty) September 7, 2015
Kat Craig, legal director of Reprieve’s abuses in counter-terrorism team, said: “Make no mistake – what we are seeing is the failed US model of secret strikes being copied wholesale by the British government.
“Ministers repeatedly promised Parliament and the public that there would be no military operations in Syria without Parliamentary approval.
“The fact that David Cameron has bypassed Parliament to commit these covert strikes is deeply worrying – as is his refusal to share what legal advice he was given.”