A report released on Tuesday revealed how the British Special Forces secretly operated in Nigeria and 18 other countries in the past 12 years.
The report titled ‘Britain’s Special Forces on service in at least 19 countries since 2011’, covers the exfiltration activities of Britain’s Special Forces between 2011 to 2023.
The report questioned the manner of transparency and democratic consent involved in the activities of the British Special Air Service (SAS) and other European countries’ special forces activities across the 19 countries.
According to the report, the British SAS had operated secretly in Nigeria, Algeria, Estonia, France, Oman, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Cyprus, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Sudan.
The UK research think-tank, AOAV, further specified that Burkina Faso, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Djibouti as countries where the British Special Forces had either trained foreign forces or based their forces before launching into another country.
It was further revealed that the ranking British ministers did not publicly certify the covert operations of the military units, which include hostage rescues as well as exfiltrations.
The operations in Nigeria include a failed attempt by the Special Boat Service (SBS) to rescue a British engineer, Chris McManus, and Italian Franco Lamolinara, in northern Nigeria in March 2012.
McManus from north-west England and Lamolinara were “murdered by their captors before they could be rescued” according to a BBC report.
The BBC’s Gordon Corera said UK troops “were first in” and shot a kidnapper but it was too late to save the two engineers, who were seized by gunmen in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State on 12 May 2011.
Also, according to the report, British special forces 2014 joined an international military group to locate and rescue hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militants in Nigeria.
“Special Air Service (SAS) liaison officers, based in the capital Abuja, have switched their focus to evaluating Britain’s capacity to help the rescue, which has been dogged by claims of delays and incompetence.
“The SAS liaison officers were in the country before the kidnappings but are understood to have switched their priority to assessing options open to Britain to help.
The UK prime minister and Defence Secretary deployed members of the SAS, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment to conduct high-risk missions where the UK is not at war, the report added.
AOAV also revealed that the special forces are actively supporting rebel groups in Syria against President Bashar Al-Assad.
“European and Jordanian sources in 2013, training of rebels had been going on for a year and was focused on senior Syrian army officers.
“Unconfirmed reports in French and American media suggested that UKSF had been assisting Syrian rebels in Turkey and Lebanon as early as 2011. The former British ambassador Peter Ford would later tell a parliamentary inquiry that “moderate” groups among the armed opposition were “largely a figment of the imagination,” the report added.
Fifty members of UK special forces were listed as being present in Ukraine earlier this year in leaked Pentagon papers, despite their involvement in conflict still being a secret.
AOAV stressed that the lengthy list of deployments occurred despite a lack of control.
“Even though special forces can be deployed without the Commons’ consent and are not subject to parliamentary committee investigations, etiquette requires that MPs vote to authorise a war.”