British special forces in Iraq have allegedly been given a target list of 200 British ISIS fighters to kill before they return to the UK, The Sunday Times reports.
SAS soldiers have been told to “use whatever means possible” to assassinate or capture the fighters.
The right-wing newspaper quoted a senior defence source as saying: “A kill list has been drawn up containing the names of hundreds of very bad people. A lot of them are from the UK. The hunt is now on for British Islamists who have effectively gone off-grid.”
“This is a multinational special forces operation. The SAS have their own part of the plan and they will be going after British nationals. This is a kill or capture mission and it has already begun.”
“We do not have exact numbers of UK nationals in Iraq. The figures which have been in the press are just estimates. We know there are British people in Iraq, but we have no idea of their identities.”
“That’s the challenge we face. There is a lot of international co-operation because it’s regarded as a global problem.”
Estimates suggest there could be up to 700 Britons still fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The SAS hit list focuses on the 200 most senior members that pose a “direct threat” to Britain.
Reported to be included are at least 12 bomb-makers who studied electronics at British universities before fleeing to the Middle East to join ISIS.
The list of British citizens has been compiled from intelligence supplied by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, and is said to include Sally Jones, a mother-of-two from Kent who is now in Syria working as a recruiter for ISIS.
Any fighters captured will be handed over to the western-backed Iraqi authorities, and subsequently face execution if found guilty.
Sources said SAS soldiers have been told the mission to kill or capture the ISIS fighters could be the most important in the regiment’s 75-year history.
The teams of elite soldiers are based at the headquarters of US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) near Baghdad.
The possibility of ISIS being defeated in Iraq has apparently increased the chances that British fighters currently fighting for the group return home and plan attacks on British soil.
Previous airstrikes by the British army on UK citizens fighting with ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliated groups led to accusations that the government was carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations.
In 2011, then Prime Minister David Cameron faced questions after ordering a lethal drone strike against two British citizens fighting for ISIS in Syria. It was the first time British drones had targeted British citizens, although the United States has been targeting American citizens abroad for some time.