The revelation that the British government killed two of its own citizens in Syria using a drone has major legal implications – not only for British people but for the country as a whole.
Questions have been asked about whether prime minister David Cameron had the right to take action in Syria without parliamentary approval back home but there are other issues at stake here – including the UK’s international standing.
Both the US and the UK have used armed drones to target their enemies, but the UK has quite often made a point of distancing itself from the US by asserting that it uses these weapons within a clear legal framework, guided by British and international law.
Nowhere has the distinction between the way the US and the UK use drones been starker than in the case of Pakistan. There, the US has conducted more than 388 strikes since 2004. The UK has not conducted any strikes in the country because of the lack of a clear legal basis for the action. This despite the fact that the British have launched hundreds of drone strikes in Afghanistan over the years.