US set to ease curbs on drone strikes

Donald Trump’s administration is ready to lift restrictions on military drone strikes, according to reports in the US.

The New York Times reports that senior officials are preparing to scrap curbs which were put in place by the Obama administration.

Under the proposed changes drone strikes would not be limited to taking out “high level” militants who are considered to pose a threat to Americans.

The change in policy is likely to see an escalation in the use of drones, a policy which was heralded by Donald Trump in a speech last month.

“The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms,” he said. “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”

Legitimate targets could now include “jihadist foot soldiers” who play a far less significant role.

In addition, proposed drone attacks would no longer require vetting from senior officials.

But a safeguard requiring that there should be a “near certainty” that no innocent bystanders will be killed will remain in place

Drones have been a vital weapon in the US arsenal against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In July a drone was used to kill Abu Sayed, the leader of Isil’s Afghan affiliate organisation.

His predecessor Hafiz Sayed Khan was killed in a drone strike in July 2016.

In February a US drone strike in Syria reportedly claimed the life of Abu al-Khair al-Masri, al-Qaeda’s second in command.