Brits use special ops to snatch 150 workers from Libyan oil patch
Image via WikipediaSunday Telegraph:
In a daylight mission, the RAF, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service used two specially equipped Hercules aircraft to snatch Britons from the country. However, 300 oil workers from Britain remained stranded in desert camps last night.The SAS and SBS move much faster than the diplomats when it comes to dealing with the problems caused by the collapse of the Gaddafi regime. The UN and others are trying to impose sanctions and restrictions on what is left of Gaddafi's government. I suspect they will be mostly ineffective. If they declare a no fly zone and put the assets in place to impose it they could limit the slaughter.
The rescue teams, who flew out of bases in Malta, searched an area four times the size of Britain to locate workers before evacuating them back to Valletta in Malta last night.
They were given food and water and medical assistance before being taken to hotels to rest. They will begin arriving home today.
Within hours of them arriving back to safety, the international community ratcheted up the pressure on the Libyan dictator as the security situation in the country deteriorated. The British embassy in Tripoli was closed and its staff hurriedly evacuated.
The rescues took place south of Benghazi, which has fallen to the rebels, and involved members of the SAS and SBS and support troops.
The Hercules aircraft, believed to be from RAF 47 Squadron (Special Forces Flight), flew from a base on Malta where they had assembled on Friday as concern grew about the safety of the British workers.
SAS and SBS units are on standby to evacuate more Britons.
A final evacuation by the frigate HMS Cumberland is expected early this morning when it docks at Benghazi for any remaining Britons.
Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, revealed the mission after the two planes landed in Malta shortly after 6pm last night.
"I can confirm that two RAF C130 Hercules aircraft have evacuated around 150 civilians from desert locations south of Benghazi,” he said. “HMS York has arrived in Valletta to take on board stores so it can assist the evacuation effort if required.
During the mission, two RAF Hercules, which can carry up to four heavily armed SAS Land Rovers, landed on improvised desert airstrips.
There were reports that Special Forces personnel were landed in Libya by HMS Cumberland when it docked in Benghazi on Thursday and fanned south into the country’s desert. They picked Britons, almost all of whom had barricaded themselves in compounds around the Libyan desert as law and order collapsed.
Many had said they were living in fear of their lives and had been faced with armed looters, while some had been robbed at gunpoint.