UK accused of 'targeted killing' of IS-linked arms dealer in drone strike

UK accused of 'targeted killing' of IS-linked arms dealer in drone strike
2 min read
06 January, 2022
The UK Ministry of Defence revealed late last year that it had killed an Islamic State group arms dealer in a precision drone strike.
The UK drone strike targeted an IS arms dealer in northeast Syria [AFP via Getty]

British human rights group Reprieve has accused the UK of the "targeted killing" of an arms dealer linked to the Islamic State group (IS) in a drone strike in Syria late last year.

The accusations come after the UK Ministry of Defence announced on its website in late November that the crew of a Reaper drone had "tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria" and "carried out a successful strike" on 25 October.

The announcement attracted criticism from human rights watchdogs and reawakened controversy on the UK's drone use policy.

Reprieve, a legal action charity, called on British ministers to justify the strike in the House of Commons and provide "the criteria" used to determine who can be targeted by a precision drone strike.

"This announcement, slipped out on a quiet Saturday morning on the MoD website, appears to herald a new UK government targeted killing policy," Jennifer Gibson, who leads on extrajudicial killings for Reprieve, told The Guardian

"So what are its criteria for tracking and killing? How did it determine that this person was worthy of assassination? And why wasn’t parliament consulted or even informed?"

The victim of the strike was identified by the Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) research group as Abu Hamza Al-Shuhail, a well-known arms dealer who mostly sold weapons to IS.

UK drones have been engaged in thousands of strikes against IS in Syria since MPs voted for military intervention in the country in December 2015.