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British Defense Chief: More Syria Strikes Possible

  • VOA News

FILE - British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon.

FILE - British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon.

Britain's defense minister said Tuesday the military would consider more airstrikes against militants in Syria if they meant stopping likely terror attacks against British interests.

Michael Fallon made the comments to BBC Radio a day after Prime Minister David Cameron revealed that Britain's Royal Air Force killed three Islamic State militants, including two Britons, in an August 21 drone strike.

The attack was the first of its kind by British forces, and Fallon said Tuesday that Britain would not hesitate to do it again to disrupt a terror plot.

Cameron called the drone strike "an act of self-defense" and said there was "clear evidence of the individuals in question planning and directing armed attacks against the U.K."

He told parliament that Briton Reyaad Khan and two other militants were killed while traveling in a vehicle near the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa.

While Britain participates in anti-IS strikes in Iraq and uses unmanned aircraft to gather intelligence in Syria, the Royal Air Force had not targeted the Islamic State group in Syria until the August strike.

An estimated 500 to 600 Britons have traveled to fight with IS alongside thousands of other foreigners as the militant group forges what it calls a "caliphate" across parts of Iraq and Syria.

France, which has also taken part in coalition airstrikes against the militants in Iraq, is now expanding its operations to include Syria. President Francois Hollande said French surveillance flights can begin Tuesday ahead of possibly conducting airstrikes there too.

Hollande also made it clear that he is not considering sending French ground troops into Syria, where government troops, rebel fighters, al-Qaida-linked forces and Islamic State militants are all battling for territory.