An estimated 1,409 Daesh* militants have been killed or wounded by UK Royal Air Force (RAF) drone strikes in Syria and Iraq over the past six years, according to the Defence Ministry's flight logs released on Saturday. The tally is based on photographic evidence and debris left behind.
The airstrikes were conducted by the RAF's MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which were controlled by crews in bunkers based in the UK.
The ministry's flight logs singled out at least 4,107 sorties carried out by the MQ-9s since 2014, during which Mohammed Emwazi — called Jihadi John and targeted for beheading hostages — was killed in Raqqa, Syria.
The Sun cited a Defence Ministry spokesperson as saying that the British military always seeks "to minimise the risk of civilian casualties through our rigorous targeting".
Drones May Replace Soldiers in UK Army, Defence Secretary Says
The remarks came after UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace made it clear in mid-September that UAVs may replace British troops in the future to crack down on the country's enemies, who Wallace claimed had already adapted to modern-day challenges.
"Instead of mass and mobilisation, this future force will be about speed, readiness, and resilience, operating much more in the newest domains, in space, cyber and sub-sea, and working to prevent conflict as well as winning it", Wallace said during a tour of Britain's newest naval ship, the HMS Tamar, in London.
According to the defence secretary, "the global picture has changed", and the UK's foes have already studied the country's vulnerabilities and "have adapted far more quickly than us".
The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack that was staged by 28-year-old knife-wielding Usman Khan, convicted in 2012 for terrorism and released in December 2018.
This was preceded by US President Donald Trump in April 2019 declaring that "ISIS has been 100 percent defeated".
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia