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Britain's SAS in Libya: What happened there?

The confusion surrounding the detention and then release of several British nationals – including members of the Special Air Service – in Libya has generated as much interest as the incident itself. However, little information is available on why a group of British men arrived unauthorized and unannounced in Libya. Below is an overview of what can be confirmed about the incident.

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The British Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland arrives in Valletta's Grand Harbour onMarch 7. Twenty nine evacuees from Benghazi in Libya were onboard. A British Ministry of Defence official on site would not confirm nor deny that eight Special Air Service (SAS) commandos who had been detained then released while on a covert mission in Libya were on board, as reported in many sections of the media.

Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

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What is the SAS?

The SAS (Special Air Services) is an elite British special forces unit originally formed during World War II. It began as a desert force in North Africa and is now responsible for high-level, typically covert operations such as reconnaissance and raids. Though very little is known about its work, it is compared to the US Army’s Delta Force.

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