Daily Mail

UK’s elite Rangers in Lebanon to train for hostage-rescue missions

- By Mark Nicol Defence Editor

HUNDREDS of elite UK troops are training in Lebanon to rescue Britons trapped in the Middle East warzone.

The Rangers, who were formed just two years ago, will be expected to mount an airlift operation alongside the Royal Air Force. Detailed plans remain secret to ensure an element of surprise, but the Army’s top officer has provided an overview.

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Patrick Sanders, confirmed British troops were ‘posturing’ for ‘non-combatant extraction operations’ in parts of the region.

The role could include saving Britons trapped in Gaza since Israel declared war on the Hamas terrorists who slaughtere­d 1,400 people on October 7.

Fears persist the terror group could use foreign citizens, Britons and US passport holders as human shields. Despite the Rafah Crossing from Gaza into Egypt being partially opened, many UK citizens have been unable to get out.

There is also the risk that Britons in countries such as Lebanon could be taken hostage by the likes of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

General Sir Patrick told MPs yesterday: ‘Clearly there is a prospect, if the conflict does expand, of a non-combatant extraction operation. We are posturing ourselves for that.

‘We are [also] exploiting the network we have, so, for example, we have our special operations forces, the Rangers, in Lebanon. They have built up a very close relationsh­ip with Lebanese armed forces.

‘That provides an insight and influence on to Lebanese decision-making and seeing things from the other side of the northern border, which clearly concerns Israel.’

He added the UK was also seeking to reassure partner nations and prepare for humanitari­an operations such as setting up field hospitals and delivering aid supplies.

General Sir Patrick stressed it was unlikely UK troops would be ‘drawn into combat or conflict’ directly and that military planners would ‘seek to avert that’. An airlift could be mounted alongside Lebanon’s air assault troops who have trained with British airborne forces. Much of the training has taken place in the country’s Bekaa Valley.

The presence of British troops so close to Israel is also intended to ‘deter’ Iran from entering the conflict directly, General Sir Patrick told the Commons defence committee. The Rangers recruit from across the British Army and are selected for their emotional intelligen­ce and self-reliance.

They are used in discreet roles in unstable regions of the world.

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