Charity demands transparency after reports of UK forces in covert ops in 19 countries

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British special forces have been involved in covert operations in almost 20 countries over the past twelve years including Iraq, Syria, Russia and Ukraine, according to a report from a UK-based charity.

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Since 2011 the UK Special Forces (UKSF) - have been “primed to contact or surveil hostile forces” in 15 other countries including Algeria, Estonia, France, Kenya, Iran, Oman, Libya, Mali, Cyprus, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, Action on Armed Violence (AoAV) said on Monday.

But the group said that these covert operations shows that the UKSF needs greater parliamentary oversight and lacks transparency. The most senior UKSF officer, the Director Special Forces, is only accountable to the Defense Secretary and the Prime Minister.

“Reported UKSF missions in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman and Libya demonstrate that British soldiers are regularly sent to engage in international conflicts without any parliamentary approval around UK involvement beforehand,” the report said.

In the case of Syria, for example, UK parliament explicitly voted against sending in troops in 2013. Yet there have been dozens of UKSF missions reported in the press in the past decade.

If all countries where the UKSF were reported operational - including countries where the forces are trained and in the UK itself - were added together, there would be 36 nations where such troops have been sent, AoAV reported.

The UKSF is military organization which conducts high risk operations in support of UK interests on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), according to the MoD website. The group is made up primarily of the SAS, Special Boat Service (SBS) and Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), and supported by the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG).

It has been reported that units like the Special Air Service (SAS) have been behind the deliberate assassination of British citizens in Iraq and Syria, the alleged cover-up of multiple killings of innocent Afghan civilians, including children, the report said.

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