Three elite British troops have been injured by Islamic State jihadi’s while on a top-secret mission in Iraq.
The Mirror reports that the heroes’ bravery has not been officially acknowledged as Tory ministers are putting pressure on defence chiefs not to acknowledge a ‘secret ground war’ being fought by the UK’s special forces in Iraq and Syria.
Both SAS and SBS soldiers suffered blast and fragmentation injuries when 30 ISIS thugs fired on them during a 25-strong allied special forces patrol in northern Iraq.
It is believed they are the first major military injuries of Britain’s secret shadow war against ISIS.
The joint British, German and U.S. special forces mission was reportedly hunting out terrorist positions outside of ISIS held Mosul to hopefully find weak points in the extremists’ defences.
During the patrol in pick-up trucks last week, the troops wore local scarves and hid their assault rifles in the floor of the vehicle so as not to alert ISIS.
Unfortunately, only ten miles south of the city’s airport, the militants opened fire with 50-calibre guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
A firefight soon broke out as the special forces men dived out of their relatively unprotected cars and fired back with high-powered assault weapons. Meanwhile, the terrorists blasted the soldiers from mounted machine gun positions on American-built armoured Humvee vehicles, stolen from the Iraqi army.
To buy time, an eight-man German commando team then obliterated one ISIS position with armour-piercing missiles, killing several enemy gunmen.
All of the ISIS gunmen were reportedly killed in the 15-minute firefight and a following air strike.
A source told the Mirror:
The enemy were up to 30 strong and heavily armed. An air strike was needed to resolve it.
The injured men were initally treated on the scene after being hit by rocket propelled grenade shrapnel and then airlifted away, before being evacuated back to Britain.
The soldiers are now recovering from ‘fragmentation’ injuries at a UK medical facility. Reportedly, their injuries are ‘unlikely to be life-changing’ but they had a ‘very lucky escape’.
Their multi-national unit is part of the Coalition Joint Special Operations Task Force and is made up of special forces operating in large numbers in northern Iraq.
Officially, hundreds of British troops are on the ground in Iraq training security forces there. But the Mirror allege they are actually hunting down and killing ISIS fighters in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
David Cameron has now pledged £2 billion more for special forces – having cut the regular army by over 30,000 troops.
The governement are allegedly reluctant to publicly acknowledge the injuries as it would mean confirming British forces are at war on the ground with IS.
The Mirror’s ‘highly-placed source’ added:
They’ll hide behind the claim they can’t comment on special forces operations but this is to avoid acknowledging Britain is at war.
Publicly to acknowledge these heroic men were injured would be to admit the battle took place and they cannot do that because it is all being done off the radar.
Politically no one has an appetite for open war against ISIS so it’s done in secret.
It’s known that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in Iraq who operated on what is known as Operation Shader, although military commanders refused to confirm the number of troops deployed.
As well as highly-trained members of the SAS and SBS, there are members of the Parachute Regiment and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.
The troops use civilian four by fours and wear jeans or local Arab dress so as not to bring attention to themselves. They fit the vehicles with special markers which identify them to Coalition aircraft in order that they are not shot at.
The Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “We do not comment on special forces operations.”