British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday it was not yet clear whether the Islamic State (IS) group militant known as “Jihadi John” had been killed in a US air strike in Syria.
Cameron, speaking outside his residence in Downing Street, said the US strike against Mohammed Emwazi, a British citizen, was a combined effort between Britain and the United States and it was “an act of self-defence. It was the right thing to do”.
“If this strike was successful -- and we still await confirmation of that -- it will be a strike at the heart of ISIL (Islamic State),” he said.
“It will demonstrate to those who would do Britain, our people and our allies harm, we have a long reach, we have unwavering determination and we never forget about our citizens.”
Earlier on Friday, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, had claimed that a leading British member of Islamic State and three other foreign militants have been killed in US-led air strikes in northern Syrian town of Raqqa.
“A car carrying four foreign Islamic State leaders, including one British Jihadi was hit by US air strikes right after the governorate building in Raqqa city,” Rami Abdulrahman, director of the UK-based Observatory told Reuters.
“All the sources there are saying that the body of an important British Jihadi is lying in the hospital of Raqqa. All the sources are saying it is of Jihadi John but I cannot confirm it personally.”
Emwazi featured in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
US officials had said the United States carried out an air strike in Syria on Thursday targeting the militant. The Pentagon had said it was still assessing the effectiveness of the strike in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State.
Dressed entirely in black, a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the bridge of his nose, Jihadi John became a menacing symbol of Islamic State brutality and one of the world’s most wanted men.
The videos showed the killings of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, US aid worker Peter Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and other hostages.
The strike came just as the United States seeks to increase pressure on Islamic State fighters, who have seized parts of Syria and Iraq, and who Obama has vowed to defeat.
The pressure includes US plans to deploy dozens of special operations forces to Syria, deliver more weaponry to US-backed Syrian fighters and to thicken US air strikes against the militant group.