Reaper Drone Firing A Missile

The CIA and US Special Forces have launched a “secret” drone program in Syria, designed to hunt down and kill high-value members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The collaboration, in which both organizations fly armed drones over the country, has resulted in strikes against “several” senior Isil leaders, including a British jihadist, American officials have told the Washington Post.

It indicates an escalation in American attempts to achieve President Barack Obama’s goal to “degrade” and “destroy” the jihadist movement, as it continues to control large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The program is independent of the efforts by the US-led international coalition, who have been targeting the jihadist positions with air strikes in both countries.

Instead, this covert program focuses on a “hit list” of people believed to be top Isil operatives.

In recent weeks armed drones killed Junaid Hussain a 21-year-old British jihadist who specialised in online propaganda for Isil.

US officials said he was moved towards the top of the target list after his name was linked to one of the two gunmen who opened fire at a cartoon contest in Garland in Texas earlier this year.

The officials said the British government was consulted on the decision to target the jihadist.