350 British special forces already deep inside Libya... and more are ready to be deployed

Hundreds of British troops have been deployed deep inside Libya targeting Colonel Gaddafi’s forces – and more are on standby.
While Chancellor George Osborne repeated that UK ground troops would not be involved, the Daily Mail can reveal there are an estimated 350 already mounting covert operations.
In total it is understood that just under 250 UK special forces soldiers and their support have been in Libya since before the launch of air strikes to enforce the no-fly zone against Gaddafi’s forces.
Rebel fighters take cover: There are already hundreds of British troops helping forces targeting Colonel Gaddafi loyalists
Rebel fighters take cover: There are already hundreds of British troops helping forces targeting Colonel Gaddafi loyalists
Drawn from a squadron of SAS and SBS personnel, some have been in Libya for a month and are being re-supplied with water, food and ammunition via airdrops from Cyprus.
Those numbers were further boosted by nearly 100 this week when paratroopers from the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) were sent to Libya as coalition commanders prepare to increase the tempo of operations.
A further 800 Royal Marines are on five days’ notice to deploy to the Mediterranean to support humanitarian relief and aid operations.


800 Marines are on standby with five days' notice
800 Marines are on standby with five days' notice
Finally, Nato takes command
Finally, Nato takes command
The beefing up of the Special Forces contingent comes as commanders switch attacks against command and control centres to low-level attacks against Gaddafi’s tanks.
With Gaddafi forces continuing to pound rebel positions, more special forces will be needed in the next phase of operations to ensure that RAF pilots do not kill civilians used as human shields by Gaddafi or destroy key public buildings.
Officials say the UK force is under very clear directions not to get drawn into close combat operations with regime forces unless their own lives are threatened or in extreme circumstances in which Gaddafi forces are killing unarmed civilians.
A senior official said: ‘Our aim is maintain a low profile, and simply deliver information and facilitate the situation for other agencies to splash (destroy) the targets.’
Revelations about the true scale of the ground deployment cast grave doubt on the Government’s estimate of the cost of the war.
Mr Osborne yesterday sought to allay public fears, saying: ‘Our estimate is that it will be in the tens of millions of pounds in terms of the cost.’
But Daily Mail calculations show that the MoD has spent at least £29.2million in just five days on the air operations and cruise missile strikes – not including the costs of the Special Forces deployed in Libya.
At that rate the war will cost more than £100million after just 17 days.
Yesterday a French fighter jet blasted a Libyan warplane caught violating the no-fly zone. The plane – said to be a single-engine Soko G-2 Galeb trainer aircraft – was hit by an air-to-ground missile as it landed at Misrata air base after flying over the besieged rebel-held city.
The strike by a coalition Rafale fighter is the first incident of its kind since the no-fly zone was imposed last week. Coalition military sources had previously claimed Libya’s air capability had been totally neutralised.
A French fighter jet shot a Libyan warplane when it landed at Misrata air base after it violated the no-fly zone
A French fighter jet shot a Libyan warplane when it landed at Misrata air base after it violated the no-fly zone

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will head to London for a conference on Tuesday to discuss the military action against Libya
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will head to London for a conference on Tuesday to discuss the military action against Libya
More than 100 people have been killed and 1,300 injured in Misrata following days of tank bombardment and sniper attack by the tyrant’s army.
■ THE RAF is planning a military evacuation of British nationals from Yemen – where pro-democracy protests against the Arab state’s president have descended into chaos.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the military has begun contingency planning for a mission to fly the remaining 200 Britons to safety.
 
 
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