Britain deploys SAS special forces in northern Iraq - Telegraph

LONDON Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:33pm BST

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a visit to a UK aid Disaster Response Centre at Kemble Airport, southern England August 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a visit to a UK aid Disaster Response Centre at Kemble Airport, southern England August 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has deployed SAS special forces in northern Iraq where thousands of civilians are trapped on a mountain by Sunni militant fighters, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Thursday.

Citing Britain's trade envoy to Iraq, Emma Nicholson, the paper said that officers from the Special Air Service (SAS), the army's special forces regiment, were working with U.S. troops to gather intelligence and had been in Iraq for about six weeks.

When asked about the newspaper report, a spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defence said it did not comment on special forces operations.

Britain has sent military planes and helicopters to the region to help deliver humanitarian aid.

Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer holiday on Wednesday to say that Britain would be involved in any international plan to rescue refugees from the Yazidi religious minority.

The Yazidi have been forced into the Sinjar mountain range by the advance of Islamic State fighters into the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The United States has said that a mission to rescue the refugees was far less likely than originally thought after an assessment team sent on Wednesday sound the humanitarian situation was not as grave as expected.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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