An Al Jazeera reporter made a claim that, if true, could spell trouble for Western powers operating and assisting in ongoing military campaigns in Libya. In a recent video report, war correspondent Tony Birtley claims that, despite UN resolutions forbidding such an act, he saw a group of Westerners operating there on the ground. Mediaite has more:
A report by Al Jazeera includes video the network’s correspondent suggests shows “evidence for the first time of allied boots on the ground” in Libya–a development that could break a United Nations resolution prohibiting “a foreign occupation force” in Libya.
In the video, Tony Birtley, a veteran war correspondent, describes a group of six men as “a group of armed foreigners, possibly British…seen liaising with the fighters. It could be to facilitate forthcoming helicopter attacks.”
The Guardian writes that this isn't the first time British soldiers have been reportedly operating on the ground:
The western men seen by Al Jazeera were present on rebel lines late last week, days before British and French attack helicopters are to join the Nato campaign. They are expected to be active over Libya this week and likely to be deployed on the outskirts of Misrata, from where forces loyal to Gaddafi continue to shell rebel positions to the east.
There have been numerous reports in the British press that SAS soldiers are acting as spotters in Libya to help Nato warplanes target pro-Gaddafi forces.
[Yet, yesterday], a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "We don't have any forces out there."
While the British are denying the "boots on the ground" accusations, one wonders what role Western troops will play if the operation in Libya is intensified. You can watch Birtley's Al Jazeera claim below:
(h/t to Mediaite)