A Royal Air Force Reaper drone strike prevented a public execution being carried out by the Islamic State in Syria, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) announced.
The remote-controlled Reaper drone operated by pilots in the UK was flying an armed reconnaissance mission at the time when they spotted Isis fighters acting as sentries on a nearby rooftop in the town of Abu Kamal in eastern Syria.
“When a van then unloaded two shackled prisoners in front of the crowd, it became clear that Daesh were organizing a public execution,” read a MOD statement. “Given the large number of civilians present, the Reaper’s crew could not target directly the Daesh fighters about to carry out the murders.”
“A Hellfire missile was fired immediately, and scored a direct hit which not only killed one of the sentries but also brought the execution to an immediate halt,” the statement said.
According to RAF sources, as a result of the missile strike, panic ensued and the militants began to flee. It is unclear if the prisoners due to be executed escaped or were taken back by the militants.
Executions are becoming more common in Islamic State territory as the organization continues to lose territory due to advances by Iraqi troops, Syrian rebel forces, and the Kurds.