British Islamic State fighters 'should not be allowed back into the UK,' says defence secretary

British citizens who fight for Islamic State should not be allowed back into the UK, the defence secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson told the Daily Mail militants bent on bringing "destruction, death and bloodshed" to the UK were being “hunted down.”

"A dead terrorist can't cause any harm to Britain," he added.

Some 800 Britons have journeyed to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State, with 130 killed in the conflict.

Williamson’s remarks come a month after the UK’s the terror laws watchdog said that Britain should "reintegrate" jihadis who had fought in war zones.

But Williamson said the armed forces were working "right across the globe" to ensure jihadis are never able to return.

"I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country," he said.

He said the role of jihadis in foreign countries should not be underestimated, with "much of what is done to activate" terror in Britain originating from places such as Libya, Iraq and Syria.

"Our job in terms of eliminating will not stop this year, will not stop next year, it is something we have got to continue to pursue," he said.

Williamson’s comments echo those of his predecessor Sir Michael Fallon, who said in October British jihadis in war zones were “a legitimate target.”

In the same month, Rory Stewart, the minister for international development, said "in almost every case" the only way to deal with British Islamic State fighters is to kill them.