Former SAS soldiers in Libya: report

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British former special forces soldiers working for private security companies are in the Libyan city of Misrata, advising the rebels and supplying information to NATO, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

Former members of the Special Air Service (SAS) are among those gathering information about the location and movement of troops loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi, British military sources told the paper.

They are passing that information on to NATO's command centre in Naples.

The former soldiers are in Libya with the blessing of Britain, France and other NATO countries, the sources told The Guardian.

They have been supplied with non-combat equipment by the coalition forces.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials denied the private soldiers were being paid by the British government and insisted it had no combat troops on the ground.

The Guardian said the soldiers were reportedly being paid by Arab countries, notably Qatar.

Britain last week approved the use of its Apache attack helicopters in the operation.

The information being gathered by the rebel advisers was likely for use by British and French pilots during missions predicted for later this week, the paper reported.

Reports of their presence emerged after Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera on Monday showed video footage of six armed westerners talking to rebels in the port city of Misrata.

Libya on Tuesday accused NATO of having killed 718 civilians and wounded 4,067 in 10 weeks of air strikes.

© 2011 AFP

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