British Special Forces are carrying out secret raids against the so-called “Islamic State” group in eastern Syria dressed as ISIS fighters, the Sunday Express reports.
The deceptive tactic, which is seeing SAS units dressed in black and waving “ISIS flags”, has been compared to the methods used by the Long Range Desert Group against Rommel’s forces during the Second World War.
More than 120 members belonging to the SAS’ elite regiment are currently in the war-torn country on “Operation Shader”, tasked with destroying ISIS weapons stockpiles, which they constantly move to avoid US-led air strikes.
It comes just days after David Cameron authorised the SAS and SBS to target ISIS leaders as part of the Government’s “broad spectrum” response to the murder of 30 British tourists by Seifeddine Rezgui in the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse.
Though the Prime Minister is being kept informed, senior military sources told the Sunday Express that he would not be required to “green light” every mission.
Instead the teams, part of a force known as the “Coalition Joint Special Operations Task Force”, are under American command.
Entitled “smash” the units, which travel in civilian pick-ups, can even launch their own unmanned aerial vehicles, or mini-drones, to scan terrain ahead of them and pinpoint ISIS fighters.
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Using a US-developed programme, the UAVs camera system can identify any known High Value Target, digitally transmitting the information as it happens to analysts on the ground.
They are being supported by more than 250 specialists, who provide additional communications support.
Operating in small groups, the units reveal their coordinates to RAF and coalition air forces and are assigned a “kill box” – an area which will not be attacked by air while they are operating there.
Last week an additional 20 SAS soldiers flew into Saudi Arabia to prepare a training system in which the UK will instruct hundreds of fighters belonging to “moderate” Syrian opposition groups, as part of efforts by David Cameron to seek a support by Labour and the SNP on air strikes over Syria.
In March, defence secretary Michael Fallon met with the US Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Lt General James Terry and the UK Deputy Commander Major General Bob Bruce In Kuwait.
During talks, Mr Fallon reaffirmed the UK’s intention to contribute to a US-led programme to train the moderate elements within the Syrian opposition at training sites across the Middle East.
He said: “ISIL must be defeated in both Iraq and Syria. Our actions and surveillance capabilities are freeing up other countries to strike in Syria.
“I reiterated today that Britain intends to contribute to the coalition’s training of moderate Syrian opposition”.
Last week former head of the British Army General Lord Richards said he belived ISIS would not be vanquished without a concerted effort on the ground, adding “tanks will roll.”
Speaking to the Sunday Express, a senior military source said: “Essentially, this is what we call penny packet operations – small individual incursions which hopefully join up to create tangible results. The view here is long – it’s about finding and engaging targets, yes, but it’s also about assessing infrastructure and identifying where ISIS is hidings its equipment in order to set the conditions for a potentially larger, future engagement. “