March 6, 2011 in News
‘No comment’ from MoD over SAS men captured in Libya (BBC):
The Ministry of Defence says it will not comment on Sunday Times claims that eight members of the SAS have been seized by rebel forces in Libya.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC a small diplomatic team was in Benghazi and “they were in touch with them”.
BBC correspondent Jon Leyne, in eastern Libya, said he had “strong suspicions” the reports were true.
The paper claims a unit was trying to put UK diplomats in touch with rebels trying to topple the Gaddafi regime.
It says eight SAS men, in plain clothes but armed, were captured.
The BBC’s Jon Leyne, who is in the main rebel stronghold city of Benghazi, said: “I have been speaking to people from the authorities here who’ve not denied it and have spoken in terms that it probably is true without actually saying as much.”
In a statement, the MoD said: “We do not comment on the special forces.”
The Sunday Times claims the SAS soldiers were taken to Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, where they are being interrogated.
The full statement from the MoD read: “We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces.”
UK silent on report Libyan rebels seize troops (Reuters):
A small British diplomatic team is in the Libyan city of Benghazi, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said on Sunday, but he declined comment on a report that Libyan rebels had captured a British special forces unit.
“I can confirm that a small British diplomatic team is in Benghazi. We are in touch with them, but it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on that for reasons I’m quite sure you understand,” Fox told the BBC.
Despite repeated questions, Fox refused to say whether the group was in danger or was being held captive.
Libya is in turmoil as rebels fight to end Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.
“It is a very difficult situation. There are a number of different opposition groups to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. They do seem relatively disparate,” Fox said.
“We want to clearly understand what the dynamic is there because we want to be able to work with them to ensure the demise of the Gaddafi regime, to see a transition to greater stability in Libya and ultimately to more representative government,” he said.
Fox ruled out the use of British military ground forces in Libya but said a no-fly zone remained a possibility.
The Sunday Times reported that Libyan rebels had captured a British special forces unit in the east of the country after a secret diplomatic mission to make contact with opposition leaders backfired.
The team, understood to number up to eight SAS soldiers, were intercepted as they escorted a junior diplomat through rebel-held territory, the newspaper said.
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- UN Libyan Crisis High Resolution Tripoli Atlas
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