Special Forces spearheading 'secret war' against ISIS in Libya
Special Forces forces are spearheading a multi-national ‘secret war’ againstISIS in Libya as Coalition forces prepare a major drive against the extremist network.
ISIS has 5,000 fighters in Libya and has threatened to turn the war-torn North African country into part of their brutal Caliphate beyond Iraq and Syria.
It comes as western forces position themselves in North Africa or a major war alongside the Libyan government to stop the spread of Islamic State.
Now SAS troops who first deployed to Libya last month at the Gamal Abdel Nasser military base, south of Tobruk are operating with French and US special operations teams against Islamic State.
They have escorted MI6 teams in meeting Libyan officials to discuss supplying weapons and training to the regime army and militias to be used against ISIS.
At the same time RAF Sentinel aircraft, based in Cyprus, are spearheading a surveillance mission to gain intelligence on Islamic State positions on the ground around the city of Sirte.
The insurgents seized Sirte last year and have massed thousands of fighters at the town in readiness for an assault on a nearby oil refinery so they can swell their warchest.
Weapons, food and fighters have been arriving by sea and in the past couple of weeks two Libyan Mig 23 aircraft have been shot down by IS fighters.
In London a senior source said the Libyan army and the Arab League fighting IS need a lot of support, but added: “We cannot just give them weapons and bullets and say get on with it, we need to provide the training. “
He said: “This is very much a secret war, because while we may have good intentions the fact is that there is very little stability in Libya.
Money is everything and groups within the government are seeking to secure power in the future.
“At present our intervention is under the radar and off the grid.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has already proposed sending more than 1,000 UK troops to train government forces, alongside French, Italian and US soldiers in a deal in which the-European Union will provide a £76 million package of aid to the country,
Last weekend the Prime Minister approved American F 15 fighters lifting out of RAF Lakenheath to mount a strike against a key Islamic State commander in Libya in an operation, which was shadowed by RAF spy planes, based in Cyprus.
The UK currently has more than 300 trainers in northern Iraq supporting the Kurds with training and has Tornado GR4 bombers and Typhoons also flying from Cyprus on missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
But the Sentinel is such a good spy planes it can recognise faces of enemy targets and listen in on phone conversations 400 miles away.