Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday that a 21-year-old British citizen was targeted and killed in a Royal Air Force drone strike in Syria last month.
Describing the move as an “act of self-defense,” Cameron said Reyaad Khan, born in Cardiff, Wales, was planning attacks on Britain as a member of the militant group Islamic State. He was killed while traveling in a vehicle in Raqqah on Aug. 21, the prime minister said.
Khan died alongside two other Islamic State members, Cameron said, including another Briton: Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen, Scotland.
There were no civilian casualties, the prime minister said.
Cameron broke the news in the House of Commons shortly after informing members of Parliament that Britain would settle as many as 20,000 more Syrian refugees by 2020.
“We were exercising the U.K.’s inherent right to self-defense,” he said. “There was clear evidence of the individuals in question planning and directing armed attacks against the U.K.”
Cameron said the strike was “entirely lawful” and that the attorney general had been briefed and approved the action.
He emphasized that the threat from Islamic State was more severe than ever.
In 2014, there were 15 Islamic State-related attacks around the world, Cameron said. He put the number carried out already this year at 150. The tally includes attacks on tourists in Tunisia that left 31 Britons dead.
Cameron said police and security services had foiled at least six attacks on British soil in the last 12 months.
The drone attack in Syria was the first instance in modern times that a British military asset had been used to conduct a strike in a country that is not at war with Britain, Cameron confirmed.
“I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done,” he said.
Another British citizen, Junaid Hussain from Birmingham, England, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Raqqah on Aug. 24, Cameron confirmed.
Boyle is a special correspondent.