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Ex SAS British Troops linked to MOD caught on tape in Libya

The Daily Mirror
Chris Hughes
01-Jun-2011

Britain’s Secret War in Libya – British Special Forces are uncovered on the ground in Libya helping the rebels fight Col Gaddaffi.

Western Troops On Ground In Libya (pic: Al-Jazeera/DM Screengrab)
British special forces mingle with the Libyan rebels to the west of Misrata

BRITAIN’S secret ground war in Libya is revealed today in this bombshell image of ex-SAS troops with rebels.

The elite unit is funded by the MOD via a security firm to topple Colonel Gaddafi.

David Cameron insists no British boots are on the ground in Libya. But a senior military source said: “They’re representing Britain.”

We have uncovered footage of 11 ex-SAS and Parachute Regiment soldiers in Libya training the rebels.

Blending in with the insurgents in sand-coloured clothes, peaked caps, shades and linen scarves, they are the UK’s unofficial boots on the ground.

Highly trained with front line experience round the world, the crack unit has been in the country for the past four weeks.

We spotted the elite soldiers in film taken by Arab TV station al-Jazeera in Dafniya, the western-most point of the rebel lines west of Misrata.

Western Troops On Ground In Libya (pic: Al-Jazeera/DM Screengrab)

The elite soldiers are armed with rifles and 9mm pistols

They are armed with local versions of the AK47 rifle and 9mm pistols.

Their presence is an incredibly sensitive subject as the UN security council resolution in March authorising the use of force against Gaddafi specifically excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any Libyan territory”.

A senior military source said night: “These men definitely did not want to be seen by prying eyes as it could compromise their mission, which is very unofficial.

“But the fact is that they are representing Britain – whether it has been denied or not – and the British Government has given the green light for this, via a circuitous route.”

“These things do happen in foreign war zones and became accepted during the Iraq War but the Government’s denial that we have boots on the ground is disingenuous to say the least.”

“They are Brits and they are being paid for indirectly by the British taxpayer to a private company, whether the money was paid via a third or even fourth party.”

The ex-servicemen work for a company which has a contract with the Government and which has built up a proven track record of providing British Army military skills in conflict zones around the world.

The veterans – who are claimed to earn as much as £10,000 a month as third party “freelances” – have seen action in Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia and Northern Ireland. Their wages have been paid to the private firm indirectly from a British Government fund.

They are part of what is known as The Circuit an unofficial old boys network of Special Forces who work in blackspots all round the world.

Their presence comes amid NATO concern that the Libyan rebels have failed to gain enough traction to topple Gaddafi.

Top brass blame the military inexperience of the rag-tag army, made up mainly of civilians, so have unofficially sanctioned on-the-job training by UK contractors.

The elite soldiers are experts in going into conflict zones and launching what is known as “train the trainer” programmes in which they teach officers and NCOs how to prepare their troops.

Rebels desperately need this as their tactical and weapon handling skills are woeful. As well as advising rebel forces on military tactics, the group has been acting as spotters to help NATO war planes target Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.

They will also be identifying targets for the imminent deployment of British and French attack helicopters on close-air support missions.

It is thought they entered Libya unofficially via Egypt in civilian vehicles. In March, six special forces soldiers and two MI6 officers were detained by rebel fighters when they landed on an abortive mission to meet insurgent leaders in Benghazi.

In what was an embarrassing episode for the SAS, the group was withdrawn soon after and this new liaison team were sent in its place. The revelations fly in the face of David Cameron’s insistence there is no mission creep in Libya.

The contract to pay for the men was acquired two months ago by a private company which works in the shadowy international security sector.

It comes amid increased speculation the UK and other NATO countries will eventually have to send in troops against crazed dictator Gaddafi.

Most experts agree that such a war – much of it conducted in urban areas – cannot be conducted without putting soldiers on the ground.

Despite more than two months of bombing by Nato, rebels have remained unable to advance west of Misrata, or west of Brega, 300 miles to the east.

The capital, Tripoli, also remains in the grip of Gaddafi, who has defied all attempts to force him to leave.

The need for a ground presence is even greater now with British Apache and French Tiger attack helicopters preparing to go in and launch close air attacks against Gaddafi’s troops.

The British men are all highly trained operators with experience of war zones all over the world.

They are able to feed information back, via the private company they work for, on what equipment is needed for the rebel army.

Nato commanders usually prefer to have a Special Forces presence on the ground before they launch attack helicopters, which are vulnerable to ground-to-air missiles and rockets.

If a pilot is downed, ground forces can help secure crash sites or co-ordinate a rescue bid to lift the crew to safety.

MERCENARIES

The use of former SAS, ex-Paras and Royal Marines grew after the Iraq invasion in 2003.

Many top soldiers, sailors and airmen quit the forces to try and earn a fortune in Iraq amid rumours of people earning £1,000 a-day in danger money.

But only the top SAS and SBS men were receiving decent money as many fledgling companies eventually went bust or lost major contracts.

Many other PMCs Private Military Companies – earned bad names, in particular American firms, for killing innocent civilians.

The company with the worst reputation was the US firm Blackwater – now re-named Xe – which still has contracts with the CIA and the American Government.

Their profile became so bad that in 2004 four of its operators were murdered by locals, torn apart and hung from a bridge in rebel town Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Read the original article at: www.mirror.co.uk.

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