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SAS unit ‘held by Libyan rebels’

Posted by seumasach on March 6, 2011


6th March, 2011

Defence secretary Liam Fox has confirmed that a British diplomatic team is in Libya talking to rebel forces.

But he declined to comment on reports that the SAS unit guarding the team had been detained by forces opposed to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Dr Fox said there was a “small diplomatic team” in the eastern city of Benghazi.

“We are in touch with them but it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on that for reasons I am sure you will understand,” he added.

Asked if the UK team was in danger, Dr Fox replied: “We are in touch with them but I’m not going to be giving further comment on that.”

He added: “It is a very difficult situation to be able to understand in detail. There are a number of different opposition groups to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya who do seem relatively disparate. We want to clearly understand what the dynamic is here 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.

“So getting a picture of that is relatively difficult as is widely reported. Communications are being interrupted, there are difficulties with mobile phones, with the internet potentially being interfered with.”

According to the Sunday Times, up to eight British soldiers are believed to have been captured as they escorted the diplomatic mission through rebel-held territory in the east of the country.

The mission is thought to have been an initial attempt to contact Gaddafi’s opponents ahead of a visit by a senior colleague to establish diplomatic relations, but the SAS intervention apparently angered the rebels.

The situation came to light as the battle for control of the country continued to rage and fears grew over the impact of instability in the region on oil prices.


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