Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spotted: Western troops on the ground in Libya

The Guardian reports: 'Armed westerners have been filmed on the front line with rebels near Misrata in the first apparent confirmation that foreign special forces are playing an active role in the Libyan conflict.

A group of six westerners are clearly visible in a report by al-Jazeera from Dafniya, described as the westernmost point of the rebel lines west of the town of Misrata. Five of them were armed and wearing sand-coloured clothes, peaked caps, and cotton Arab scarves.

The sixth, apparently the most senior of the group, was carrying no visible weapon and wore a pink, short-sleeve shirt. He may be an intelligence officer. The group is seen talking to rebels and then quickly leaving on being spotted by the television crew...

There have been numerous reports in the British press that SAS soldiers are acting as spotters in Libya to help Nato warplanes target pro-Gaddafi forces. In March, six special forces soldiers and two MI6 officers were detained by rebel fighters when they landed on an abortive mission to meet rebel leaders in Benghazi, in an embarrassing episode for the SAS.

The group was withdrawn soon afterwards and a new "liaison team" sent in its place. Asked for comment on Monday, a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "We don't have any forces out there."

The subject is sensitive as the UN security council resolution in March authorising the use of force in Libya specifically excludes "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory".

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.'

Read the entire article and see Al-Jazeera's video footage here.

Hat tip: Memeorandum.


Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
Articles | Author's Page