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British special forces praised for stopping IS suicide attack in Libya

Published 26/05/2016

The Ministry of Defence said it would not comment on special forces operations
The Ministry of Defence said it would not comment on special forces operations

British special forces blew up an Islamic State suicide truck in Libya earlier this month, a military commander there has said.

The strike apparently came when a vehicle, acting as a bomb, approached a bridge leading towards the city of Misrata in the north-west of the country.

UK forces appeared ready for the attack and fired a single missile during the incident on May 12, Commander Mohammed Durat told The Times.

Describing the scene as the truck sped forward he said: "Our British friends seemed quite calm about it that day."

Commander Durat, of Misrata's Third Force, said the special forces had plotted the co-ordinates and ranges required for a successful strike, telling the paper: "It blew up the suicide truck with a huge explosion, the biggest we have seen yet.

"Not one of our own forces was killed."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said they do not comment on special forces operations.

Last month a spokesman for the Foreign Office said the UK is focused on training Libyan security forces to provide their own security, and has no plans to deploy ground troops.

Earlier this year United Nations experts said they believe the political and security vacuum in Libya is being exploited by IS, reporting it has "significantly expanded" the territory it controls in the nation and become "increasingly attractive to foreign fighters".

Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood said the current estimate of the number of Islamic State fighters in Libya is between 3,000 and 6,000.

British special forces are no strangers to operating in the North African country.

The Special Air Service was first formed during the Second World War, in 1941, by Scots Guards Lieutenant David Stirling.

Inserted behind enemy lines during the Western Desert Campaign, the commando force carried out raids across North Africa, including Libya.

The regiment undertook sabotage missions on airfields and planes, disrupted supply routes, and were ordered to harass the Germans in any way they could.

The SAS then served in Italy at the end of the desert campaign. It was disbanded in 1945 but revived in 1947.

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From Belfast Telegraph