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UK special forces operated secretly in 19 countries since 2011: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture purportedly shows a member of UK special forces. (File photo by AFP)

Britain's special forces have carried out secret operations in 19 countries over the past 12 years, according to a report.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that 11 out of the 19 countries where UK special forces operated secretly were Muslim nations. 

An investigation by a research group, Action on Armed Violence, revealed that the UK's elite military units carried out covert operations in Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines, as well as Muslim countries of Iraq, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Oman, Somalia and Yemen.

They were most recently involved in Sudan after the outbreak of violence in the African country. 

This picture purportedly taken in Cyprus in 2020 shows UK Royal Marines of 40 Commando light infantry unit working with a Malloy T150 cargo drone during a three-month deployment to the Mediterranean and Black Sea region to conduct Exercise Olympus Warrior in for Future Commando Force (FCF) training.

UK special forces units were also sent to Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the report. 

The authors of the investigative report said UK special forces carried out secret operations in France, Mali, Cyprus and Estonia, as well.

Particularly in Syria, UK special forces have had continuous military activity since 2012 in a joint effort with opposition forces aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

In Ukraine, the Pentagon documents leaked earlier this year showed that fifty members of UK special forces were in the former Soviet republic alongside Kiev forces fighting against Russia.

The exact mission of the UK special forces was not stated in the Pentagon's leaked papers.

Britain's operations in the past included extracting, evacuation and transporting UK nationals from conflict zones, hostage rescues, exfiltration, training courses and protection.

During his tenure, Britain's former Prime Minister David Cameron had even reportedly granted a “carte blanche,” otherwise a license to kill, to the members of the elite Special Air Service (SAS) of the country.

High-risk operations across the globe -- which are largely carried out by members of the SAS, Special Boat Service and Special Reconnaissance Regiment, among other secretive military units such as the 18 (UKSF) Signals Regiment and the Future Commando Force (FCF), are directly ordered by the prime minister or defense secretary and are kept highly secret.

Major military acts of war conducted by UK special forces must be approved by the British parliament; however, small-scale special forces operations can be carried out without MPs’ permission and are not subject to committee investigations.

In this regard, UK special forces were the subject of scrutiny after a public inquiry found that units had carried out more than 50 summary executions of alleged Taliban members in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011.

Meantime, the UK policy, detailed in the Command Paper, Defense in a Competitive Age, mandates the military to increase its secret operations in other countries to protect Britain’s interests across the globe.

The doctrine requires a shift in focus for the future in order to counter Russia and China.

In related news, UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace warned last week about the growing threat of Russia and China, saying "conflict is coming."


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