David Cameron vows to 'beef up' SAS and double drone numbers


David Cameron has vowed to "beef up" the SAS and double the number of British drones to combat Islamic State (IS) militants as he sought to put defence and security at the heart of the Tory conference agenda.

The Prime Minister said investment in special forces and surveillance was essential to meeting the terrorist threat facing the UK.

He told the Sunday Telegraph that the UK will buy a fleet of 20 new Protector drones capable of targeting IS extremists in Iraq and Syria.

In an interview with the newspaper as the Tories gathered in Manchester, Mr Cameron said: "One of the biggest threats we have to respond to is that terrorist threat and that means a lot of things in terms of obviously domestic security and our intelligence services.

"But it also means making sure that we have the military equipment and resources we need - so seeing an enhancement of our Special Forces and particularly on the issue of surveillance aircraft."

The newspaper reported that the Prime Minister made clear that more jihadists operating in Syria who are believed to be on a British "kill list" will be targeted by the drones as a "last resort".

The focus on defence comes after the end of Labour's conference was overshadowed by a row over Jeremy Corbyn's support for unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Mr Cameron's arrival in Manchester for the first autumn conference of a majority Tory administration since 1996 came amid protests at the Government's continued austerity measures.

Outside the secure zone surrounding the Midland Hotel and Manchester Central conference centre, a handful of demonstrators staged a noisy protest.

Thousands of protesters are expected to take part in a march on Sunday as the conference formally opens, while Labour leader Mr Corbyn is expected to address a public meeting in Manchester on Monday.