British Special Forces Operating Inside Syria

News Brief – June 26, 2012

Unconfirmed reports carried by DEBKAfile, an Israeli media outlet with known connections to Western intelligence, claim that British Special Forces are on the ground in Syria.
The Special Forces were reported to be 10 kilometres inside northern Syria close to its border with Turkey. DEBKAfile’s sources claimed that the British were trying to set up a ‘safe-zone’ from which anti-Assad forces could operate.
Moreover, DEBKAfile’s sources claimed that if the operation were successful, further ‘safe zones’ would be established in northern Syria.
However, the site notes that its sources acknowledged that any further incursions would be determined by “Syrian, Russian and Iranian (+ Hizballah) responses to the initial stage of the operation.”
If confirmed these developments contain the seeds of a much bigger conflict that could well spread beyond Syria.
This is not first account of British involvement in the ongoing strife in Syria. In February this year British Special Forces and intelligence operatives were reported to be providing intelligence and logistical support to opposition forces in Homs.  
Earlier Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would not tolerate Western military intervention in Syria, and that it would respond decisively if it happened.
The reported British incursion, if confirmed, occurred at the end of Vladimir Putin’s brief visit to Israel on Tuesday and is seen as a direct challenge to his repeated warnings that Moscow would not tolerate Western military intervention in Syria.
Similar warnings have come from Tehran.
Meanwhile, Syria’s elite Republican Guard forces clashed with opposition forces just north of Damascus on Tuesday. In some of the most intense fighting seen recently Syrian Special Forces fought with opposition forces near Republican Guard housing compounds and bases about five miles (eight kilometers) north of central Damascus, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said at least six people were killed in the fighting.
The Republican Guard, which is commanded by Assad’s younger brother Maher, is tasked with protecting the Syrian capital.

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