A team of SAS troops has been sent to the Middle East after the US assassinated Iran’s top soldier.
Military bosses have put British forces in Iraq on high alert after the drone attack on General Qassem Soleimani.
The move, set to include evacution of Britons there, comes amid growing fears of a war between Iran and the US and its allies.
The Daily Star Sunday can reveal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is on holiday in the Caribbean, swore after being told US President Donald Trump had ordered the strike on Thursday.
A source at London’s Permanent Joint Head Quarters, where British military operations are controlled, said: “The Prime Minister’s first reaction was a single-word expletive – f***.
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“He summed up what we all felt. It was pretty much the reaction of the British Army’s entire general staff. It came completely without warning, not even the slightest inkling from the US.”
Defence chiefs have sent 50 SAS troops along with the Special Forces Support Group to the region, where they are likely to aid evacuation of Brit-ish military staff. There are around 1,400 military and Government civilian personnel in Iraq as part of Operation Shader.
They help to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces to defeat Islamic State terrorists.
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Royal Navy ships in the Persian Gulf have also been warned about the dangers of suicide attacks.
It is understood that various elements of the special forces will remain inside a British military base in Cyprus until needed, while others will deploy covertly into Iraq.
One senior defence source said: “Soleimani had been a marked man for quite a while. He had the blood of many British soldiers on his hands.”
The US has announced it is sending nearly 3,000 extra troops to the region.
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Alerts levels regarding other Middle East nations are also being increased, with calls for citizens to “remain vigilant” in Afghanistan, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Thousands of mourners chanted “death to America” as they took to the streets of Baghdad for Soleimani’s funeral.
President Trump said he ordered the strike to prevent any further conflict. But Tehran, the capital of Iran, has vowed harsh retaliation, raising fears of war.
- Boris Johnson
- Donald Trump
- British Army
- Daily Star Sunday
- Royal Navy
- Saudi Arabia
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