Britain refuses to confirm ISIS attacked special forces base in Syria
UK special forces are known to use the al-Tanf garrison as a base to train ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels. The US also has troops stationed at the base.
The UK presence became public knowledge after images were leaked to the press in 2016.
Reports by the Telegraph indicate an IS assault force composed of an estimated 30 suicide bombers and fighters attacked the base on Sunday.
It is reported that the jihadists avoided detection by using vehicles captured in an earlier battle to get close to the base.
US troops were at the base at the time. The British government, however, refuses to comment on special forces operations and would not confirm if troops were present.
In early April, the Remote Control Project, an academic think tank specializing in covert warfare, published a report highly critical of the UK’s policy on special forces.
Its study, titled ‘All Quiet On The ISIS Front? British secret warfare in an information age,’ looks at where and how the UK is fighting its wars, using means which are largely unaccountable.
The report points out that countries like Australia and the US often detail special forces deployment in a way which the UK does not.
“This provides reporters, and the general public, with an important opportunity to question government strategy and debate the implications of their involvement in conflicts overseas,” the authors argue.
The report also highlights that special forces operations are often only reported as a result of leaks, as in the case of the deployment to al-Tanf.