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Getting caught is the risk you accept on this kind of mission; Former SAS expert on the high level decisions underpinning special tasks.

Byline: ANDY McNAB

THIS is exactly the kind of situation SAS troops are prepared for when carrying out any covert mission - getting captured is a risk you take.

With Global Positioning System equipment that can place you within 10metres anywhere in the world it's difficult to believe these guys just strayed across the border into Syria.

If they were lost, they will never live it down when they get back. This patrol may have been acting on specific information linked to weapons of mass destruction.

But they could have been in hot pursuit of an enemy target as they tried to escape. Maybe a high-ranking member of the Iraqi regime, even Saddam himself.

When you're in hot pursuit you don't pause at any border. This happened in places like Ireland all the time, when the SAS chased a terrorist trying to escape into the south.

From my own time with the SAS during the first Gulf War I know this border well. There are hardly any barriers, sometimes just wire.

Missions like this are never decided on speculatively. If military planners knew there was a possibility weapons of mass destruction were hidden in Syria the decision would have been made very high up to go in and find them.

But if the risk was worth it special forces would have been sent in and if any were captured it would be up to the politicians to sort it out

The negotiated release of these two men would have been at the highest level. On these type of operations, the possibility of capture is part of your role and if I took a patrol on a mission like this we would definitely have civilian clothes in case we had to escape.

All SAS troops are trained in resistance to interrogation and conduct under capture.

They must not give away anything that could compromise other missions or harm the safety of any members of their patrol who escaped.

I remember an American pilot who spent six years in a POW camp during the Vietnam war. He said his captors could do what they wanted to him, but could not control his mind.

His words kept me going during the six weeks I spent at the hands of the Iraqis in 1991.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 29, 2003
Words:379
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