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British Special Forces In Syria?


As Syria spirals into civil war, fresh rumours of covert British military support of rebel forces have surfaced. Since late last year there have been rumours of UKSF involvement in supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in their efforts to topple the Syrian regime(1). Such support was rumoured to include training of rebel forces in bases set up outside of Syria. DEBKAfile, an Israeli news website, has now reported that British Special Forces have pushed into Syria via Turkey(2) and have begun covert operations there.

DEBKAfile claims that the British incursion is part of a wider effort which includes the deployment of American, French and Turkish special operations forces into Syria. One of the aims of such covert intervention is to secure safe havens within Syria for civilian refuges fleeing the fighting, DEBKAfile reports. DEBKAfile's sources also suggest that UKSF have provided assistance to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), including the provision of communications equipment. It was also claimed that UKSF provided close protection for Burham Ghalioun of the Syrian National Council, a rebel opposition leader, as he briefly set foot inside Syria after crossing the border with Lebanon(3).

DEBKAfile speculates that a similar pattern is unfolding in Syria as to what occurred in Libya last year : British special forces setting up inside the country and assisting indigenous rebel forces with communications, logistics and tactical planning. A major missing element, however, is that of air power. During the campaign in Libya, UKSF forces coordinated NATO close air support operations with rebel ground movements - arguably the deciding factor in the rebel victory. As of yet there seems to be little political appetite by Western powers for such overt intervention in Syria, especially in light of a likely strong opposition to such a move from Russia and Iran.

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