British soldier in Basra, Iraq (archives)
Photo: AP

Report: British commando forces operated in Iran

Sunday Times reports special forces have crossed into Islamic republic several times in recent months as part of secret border war against Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds forces responsible for training Shiite militias in Iraq, supplying them with advanced weapons

British special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds special forces, British newspaper The Sunday Times reported, quoting defense sources.


According to Britain and the United States, the al-Quds forces are responsible for training the Shiite militias in Iraq and are supplying them with advanced weapons.


According to The Sunday Times, There have been at least half a dozen intense firefights between the SAS commando unit and arms smugglers, a mixture of Iranians and Shi’ite militiamen. The unreported fighting straddles the border between Iran and Iraq and has also involved the Iranian military firing mortars into Iraq.


UK commanders are concerned that Iran is using a militia ceasefire to step up arms supplies in preparation for an offensive against their base at Basra airport, the report said. A SAS squadron is carrying out operations along the Iranian border in Maysan and Basra provinces with other special forces, the Australian SAS and American special-operations troops.


The Sunday Times reported that the special forces were patrolling the border, ambushing arms smugglers bringing in surface-to-air missiles and components for roadside bombs. “Last month, they were involved in six significant contacts, which killed 17 smugglers and recovered weapons, explosives and missiles,” a source said. It was not clear if any of the dead were Iranian or Iraqis.


Last week, British Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said the Ministry of Defense was unable to say whether British troops had killed or captured any Iranians in Iraq. The ministry declined to comment, but privately officials insisted British troops never carry out hot pursuit across the border, the report said.


There have been persistent reports of American special-operations missions inside Iran preparing for a possible attack. According to The Sunday Times, however, the security sources said British troops were solely stopping arms smuggling.


The fighting comes amid an increase in US and British intelligence operations against Iran. According to The Sunday Times, Britain’s forces have more than 70 Farsi experts monitoring Iranian communications, and the intelligence is shared with the United States.


In addition, seven American U2 spy planes have passed through RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire this year on their way to Akrotiri in Cyprus or Al-Dhafra in Abu Dhabi, the bases for flights over Iran.


פרסום ראשון: 10.21.07, 15:49
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