US armed forces chiefs say they will target ISIS ‘regardless of origin’ amid calls for an investigation into the drone attack that reportedly killed British jihadi Sally Jones.
The joint task force, Operation Inherent Resolve, has refused to confirm whether Jones had been killed in the coalition strike over Raqqa.
It emerged last night that the British jihadist, dubbed the White Widow, had been taken out by a predator missile while attempting to flee the ISIS capital.
The onetime punk rocker from Chatham in Kent, fled to Syria with her son JoJo, now 12, in 2013 before becoming a recruiter for ISIS.
US armed forces chiefs say they will target ISIS ‘regardless of origin’ amid calls for an investigation into the drone attack that reportedly killed British jihadi Sally Jones
Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), wrote on Twitter: ‘‘Cannot confirm the death of ISIS propagandist Sally Jones as a result of a Coalition Strike. Combined Joint Task Force pursues ISIS, regardless of origin.’
Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to comment on the attack.
But the message of defiance by the OIR comes hours after Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told Britons fighting for ISIS in Syria they could be hit ‘every hour of every day’ by an RAF missile.
Mr Fallon issued the stark warning after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to confirm he would have ordered the drone strike which killed the ‘White Widow’ terrorist.
Mr Cobyn said he wanted terrorists to be apprehended and face trial rather than be subjected to bombing.
Experts tonight warned him he was being ‘naive’ about the chances of extracting Jones alive from the Syrian war zone.
Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, pictured at the Foreign office today, said British jihadis fighting for ISIS abroad are legitimate targets and at risk of being taken out by an RAF strike ‘every hour of every day’
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured today on a visit to Yorkshire) has refused to say he would have ordered the drone strike that killed the ‘White Widow’ terrorist
Speaking at the Foreign Office tonight, Sir Michael said he could not comment on the CIA-ordered hit.
But he said: ‘I can confirm that if you are a British national in Iraq or Syria and if you have chosen to fight for Daesh (ISIS), an illegal organisation preparing and inspiring terrorist attacks in our streets, then you have made yourself a legitimate target.
‘You run the risk every hour of every day of being on the wrong end of an RAF or US missile.’
Senior Conservatives warned Mr Corbyn’s position proved he would endanger national security if he were ever to enter Downing Street.
James Cleverly, the Conservative MP and serving Army Reserve officer, told MailOnline it showed the Labour leader was not a ‘credible national leader’ who could take the decisions needed to safeguard Britain.
In other developments, Amnesty International demanded an inquiry into the possible death of Jones’ 12-year-old son in the strike.
Speaking to ITV News on a visit to Yorkshire, Mr Corbyn refused to say he would have ordered the strike.
He said: ‘I think it is difficult to give an answer to that question which is hypothetical.
‘I think we have to look at very carefully the effects on the civilian population of any bombing that takes place before such a decision is made.’
Asked if he would have preferred that Jones had been prosecuted, he said: ‘I think that people who have committed crimes ought to be put on trial.
‘That way of course when you interrogate someone you get more information about the background to it.
‘I represent a constituency that lost many people in 7/7 and we remember what happened that day.’
According to the report, the CIA told the Government in June that the 50-year-old had been killed by a Predator drone that same month. Pictured: How the terrorist was killed in Syria
Mr Corbyn said it was crucial for peace talks to get underway.
He said: ‘It is unconfirmed so we have to be quite careful on this, but quite clearly it is significant if it has happened.
‘I think what we now have to do is look to the next phase in Syria, which is to bring everyone back around the table to get a political solution because we cannot go on with having a war for ever.’
Mr Corbyn has been repeatedly criticised for being weak on national security for refusing to say he would sanction strikes on Britain’s enemies.
The Labour leader founded the Stop the War campaign and is a life-long opponent of Western military action.
James Cleverly, the Conservative MP and serving Army Reserve officer, told MailOnline: ‘The idea of arresting Ms Jones from the heart of a conflict zone is ridiculous and is a suggestion that shows he isn’t a credible national leader.
‘Once again, Jeremy Corbyn showed that he just isn’t capable of making the difficult decisions needed to keep our country safe.’
James Cleverly, the Conservative MP and serving Army Reserve officer, told MailOnline it showed the Labour leader was not a ‘credible national leader’
Former Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant said: ‘Whatever the rights or wrongs of any drone strike, no-one can ever be sure that a Prime Minister Corbyn would ever put our defence and protection first.’
MP Simon Clarke added: ‘Sally Ann Jones was an enemy of our country and most right thinking people will be delighted she can no longer seek to warp impressionable minds with her twisted ideology.
‘There was absolutely no realistic way of getting her in a court room as Jeremy Corbyn must well know.
‘Once again he shows he would be both unwilling and unable to keep us safe were he ever to find himself in Downing Street.’
A spokesman for Amnesty International said: ‘Sally-Anne Jones’ reported role as a ‘recruiter’ for ISIS would doubtless have meant her facing serious criminal charges if she’d returned to the UK, but the manner of her reported killing gives rise to some very serious questions.
‘Was the UK aware of any US military operation to target Ms Jones, and if so on what grounds did the UK authorities believe it justified to carry out the attack?
‘Given the reported death alongside Ms Jones of her 12-year-old son, we also need to know whether the UK or US authorities made any assessment of the dangers of killing or injuring others present at the time of the drone strike.
‘The attack on Ms Jones is another worrying example of a drone strike carried out in circumstances of questionable legality leading to summary killings, including that of a child. We need a full investigation into this and other US drone and missile attacks in Syria and Iraq.’
Counter terrorism expert Andy Oppenheimer told MailOnline he agreed with the principle terrorists should be tried as criminals where possible.
But he warned: ‘I don’t think in this case that would have been possible. She has been there for a long time as part of the ISIS contingent.
‘They have been terrorising that whole area – they occupied territory.
‘We are not going to get her back.’
Mr Oppenheimer said Western militaries pursued targets with drone strikes because it was the most up to date equipment that allowed them to attack over long distances at low risk.
He agreed Mr Corbyn was ‘naïve’ about the challenges of tackling ISIS.
And he said: ‘If people are squeamish about that, they are going to be even more squeamish about the full story of what ISIS has done.
‘I dread to think what we will find when we get into these areas.’
Elizabeth Pearson, a terrorism expert and associate fellow at the defence think-tank RUSI told the Mail Online: ‘She was more of a symbolic presence – she looked the part; she was vocal, she was a convert, somebody who was white.
‘She represented something – the failure of western society to give women what they want and need.
‘From that point of view she was very powerful. As a symbolic message she is very important.
‘Her death is symbolic – it makes the news and creates press. She was a poster girl.’
Ms Pearson added: ‘We know the strategy is to take out individuals to take out capacity and take out knowledge publicity.
‘A drone strategy, when it hits people who are well-known is a burst of positive publicity for those people carrying out the drone strikes.
‘In that sense she was useful to both sides in that way.’