By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 17 December 2015:
There was bemusement tonight following reports that a US special forces team had landed unexpectedly . . .[restrict]at the Al-Wattiyah Airbase, controlled by forces loyal to the Thinni government and were told by local forces to go away.
The Libyan Air Force has claimed that 20 well-equipped Americans arrived at the airbase to the south-west of Tripoli with what appeared to be a dune buggy. Puzzled local commanders are reported to have told the foreigners that they had no knowledge of any mission and that they should leave.
It appears that after milling around and having their photographs taken, with assault rifles slung over their shoulders, the men agreed to depart in the aircraft that had brought them. Some sources say that their plane carried a UAE registration.
News agencies are reporting that Pentagon sources have confirmed that the men were on special mission with the agreement of the Libyan government. However, no official confirmation has yet come from either the Pentagon or the US Defense Department.
The apparel of the Americans – some were wearing jeans and baseball caps – has cast doubt on the likelihood that they were serving soldiers. One military analyst told the Libya Herald this evening that among the many “odd features”, the men appeared to have no personal communications equipment, generally an essential for special forces units.
It has been suggested that this was a hit team tasked with striking at the IS base outside Sabratha.
If these were indeed US special forces then the failure of their mission is reminiscent of the fate of six British SAS troops who were landed near Benghazi in March 2011, during the Revolution and promptly arrested. Their operation was never properly explained though it was believed that they were supposed to be a close-support detail for visiting UK diplomats. [/restrict]