The Guardian confirme la présence de troupes françaises et britanniques au sol en Libye.
(« Libya conflict : British and French soldiers help rebels prepare Sirte attack » par Chris Stephen at Kilometre Sixty et Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian , 25 Août 2011)
British and French special forces are on the ground in eastern Libya, calling in air strikes and helping rebel units as they prepare to assault Sirte, the last coastal town still in the hands of pro-Gaddafi forces, a rebel officer has told the Guardian.
The soldiers have taken a leading role not only in guiding bombers to blast a path for opposition fighters but also in planning the offensive that finally broke the six-month siege of Misrata, Mohammed Subka, a communications specialist in the Al Watum (My Home) brigade, said.
On Thursday afternoon, Subka and his unit waited at the rebel frontline, known as Kilometre Sixty, aboard a column of battered, black pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and a few tanks recently captured from Gaddafi’s forces.
“We are with the England team,” he told the Guardian. “They advise us.”
Subka said British and French units had been operating in Misrata for several weeks, based somewhere near the city’s port, Kasa Ahmed. Of the two, he said the British were the more friendly.
The British and French units also helped opposition fighters assault Zlitan at the weekend in the first stage of the offensive that took rebel units into Tripoli.
Cloak and dagger Low-key role of SAS
British special forces soldiers in Libya currently number fewer than 30, but the size of the deployment could be increased if the security situation deteriorates and the hunt for Gaddafi and his entourage drags on.
SAS troops have so far taken an undercover role, training rebel groups in advance of the attack on Tripoli. They have been working with French commandos and special forces from a number of east European countries. British defence officials, perhaps for political reasons, are emphasising the role played by Qatari special forces, notably in the storming of Gaddafi’s compound, and those of the UAE.
SAS soldiers, whose role in Libya was first reported in the Guardian, have long experience of hunting down prominent individuals, a task they carried out in Bosnia in the search for war criminals, in Iraq, where they tracked down leading al-Qaida operatives, and in Afghanistan, where US generals praised their role in killing Taliban commanders.
However, in Libya their primary task is likely to remain that of advisers, UK defence officials said. Their presence in any final shoot-out with Gaddafi would not be welcome, either in Libya or in London, officials suggest. Richard Norton-Taylor