Wednesday, January 19th | 18 Shevat 5782

February 25, 2013 11:44 am

Report: UK Deployed SAS to Iraq Ahead of Invasion to Prevent Attack on Israel

avatar by Zach Pontz

US military patrol, Tal Afar, Iraq.

In the lead up to the country’s entry into the Iraq war British Prime Minister Tony Blair deployed an elite unit to Iraq in an effort to to prevent an attack on Israel, the UK’s Daily Mail reported over the weekend.

According to the report, an elite unit of the Special Air Service (SAS) was sent on a top-secret mission to Al Qa’im March 17, 2003, only hours before a vote was scheduled on whether or not the UK should help invade Iraq, and two days before the US’s planned invasion of Saddam Hussein’s embattled nation. According to intelligence reports, the town’s water-treatment plant was where Saddam’s forces were poised to fire chemical weapons towards Israel.

“It was a location where missiles had been fired at Israel in the past and a site of strategic importance for WMD material,” one SAS officer is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail report.

Facing fierce resistance from Saddam’s troops,  the first squadron, consisting of 60 men, waited out the mission for back ups but their mission wasn’t completed before the invasion of Iraq March 19th.

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After six weeks in the western desert, D Squadron redeployed to Baghdad.

From May 2003 to May 2009 – when the SAS finally left Iraq – the regiment fought a much-praised counter-insurgency operation.

Then-US Commander General David Petraeus said of the SAS at the time: “They have exceptional initiative, exceptional skill, exceptional courage and, I think, exceptional savvy.”

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