[credit provider=”AP Images”]
The BBC’s Newsnight has revealed the story of the British troops the ground during Libya’s civil war and the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.It was previously known that British troops were on the ground after several members of the the UK’s elite forces were captured by rebel forces while apparently escorting British secret service members in the country (an incident that almost derailed covert efforts in the country, Newsnight reveals).
Photographs of ex-SAS members were also taken on the ground. At the time, David Cameron had denied that any British troops were on the ground.
However, the Newsnight report goes some way to show that Western influence in the war went far beyond simple bombing strikes and undercover ground troops may have played a crucial role.
Reportedly, British SAS members worked with around 100 foreign soldiers on the ground — including Qatari and French special forces — to coordinate attacks. They dressed as local people and largely managed to avoid detection. Their activities included:
- Rescue efforts for foreign citizens.
- Diplomatic escorts.
- On the ground coordination for NATO bomb attacks.
- Training for rebels.
- Commanding Libyan rebels in battle.
Crucially, Newsnight’s sources refused to say if UK troops in the country played a role in the bombing and capture of Qaddafi’s escape column.