2012 (From Syria section)
Continual: According to European and Jordanian sources in 2013 (Guardian), training of rebels had been going on for a year and focuses on senior Syrian army officers. Forces included Brits, US and French. Another source says UK and French SF are on the ground delivering training to rebels. (NB: British intelligence were also supplying intelligence to rebels from Cyprus).
Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria, told a parliamentary enquiry in 2016 that the existence of “moderate” groups among the armed opposition was “largely a figment of the imagination”. (MEE)
April: SBS to deploy in Mediterannean to tackle people-smuggling operations. “The troops will also be under orders to seize, by force if necessary, the leaders of smuggling operations so that they can stand trial under international trafficking laws.The force are likely to use troops from X Squadron, the unit specialising in the use of minisubs, diver propulsion vehicles (DPVs), subskimmers – a boat which can travel both above and below the waterline. DPVs and subskimmers can allow commandos to enter harbours from hundreds of metres offshore, plant mines and escape without being detected. The blast from the mines will punch a hole straight through a boat’s hull causing it to sink in minutes.” (Daily Star) They’re going to willingly endanger migrants by sinking their vessel??
April: A crack squad of SAS soldiers will be deployed if UK tourists are targeted by jihadis in the Mediterranean. The 150-strong unit will comprise highly trained Royal Marines led by members of the SAS – as part of the wider The Special Purpose Task Group, a counter-trafficking operation.
From their base in Cyprus, they will be able to react should terror come to the beaches or resorts of the region. The Brit soldiers will be on permanent patrol in the holiday hotspot
According to military sources the SAS, under the command of the Director of Special Forces and the Chief of the Defence Staff, will act as “first responders” in the event of a hit by twisted islamists. (Mirror)