UK-MIDDLE EAST: UK covert ops in Middle East can't stay secret forever, says top Tory MP

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"A senior Conservative MP has told Middle East Eye that parliament should have oversight of covert military operations in the Middle East, after news emerged that elite SAS troops have been battling the Islamic State group in Libya.

Crispin Blunt said he understood why the British public may think the UK is engaged in a secret war across the region, as more and more reports emerge of covert military operations against IS.

“The longer it goes on you can’t keep these things secret forever,” he said. “If you’re running a strategy and you’re using special forces to do it – and you’re doing it over a prolonged period – you’ll get into the position we’re getting into now, which is that there is a consistent pattern of open source reporting on it.”

Over the past year the UK has been reportedly carrying out covert military operations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya - with the latest report on Thursday by the Times.

The newspaper reported that SAS troops were spotted by local Libyan fighters earlier in May blowing up an IS vehicle laden with explosives near the port city of Misrata.

The Times report came just two days after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK had "no plans" to deploy troops to Libya in a combat role."

See the story: UK covert ops in Middle East can't stay secret forever, says top Tory MP (Middle Easy Eye, link)

And see a new briefing by the Remote Control project: We need greater transparency on UK military operations in Libya (pdf) by Emily Knowles: "Official government statements suggest that the UK military operation in Libya both began and ended with the 2011 NATO mission. However, research undertaken and commissioned by Remote Control suggests that this is only true if you take a very narrow view of what counts as a UK military operation. Since 2011, information has been slowly surfacing about the extent of ongoing covert UK engagement, including several waves of special force deployment, the presence of undisclosed numbers of military advisers, intelligence gathering operations, potential drone operations, and the recent approval of the use of UK air bases in US air strikes against ISIS."

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