British SAS troopers have successfully kidnapped three Islamic State (Isis) chiefs in daring lightning raids in Mosul, according to reports. The city is the largest in Iraq still under Isis (Daesh) control, but is facing increased pressure from the north, south and east by the Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga forces and US-led Western airstrikes.
British special forces, including the Special Air Service (SAS), have been operating in Iraq in conjunction with other western forces to help plot attacks on the militants, with snipers taking out high-level members of the terror group on several occasions. More from IBTimes UK
Now it has emerged that more than 20 members of British special forces, most of them in the SAS and under US command, have been co-ordinating top-secret snatch missions on IS compounds in Mosul. The operations use a three-pronged attack of diversionary air strikes to the north of the city with Typhoon fighter jets, whilst RAF Sentinel spy planes intercept communications.
Blackhawk helicopters then drop the highly-trained troops into hostile territory for lightening raids attempting to kidnap IS warlords. The operation has been dubbed a success as three mid-ranking IS chiefs have been snatched in just three weeks.
The captives are then handed to either Kurdish or Iraqi security officials for interrogation. According to some military sources, these attacks are a precursor to British special forces spearheading an army of 70,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops for an assault on the city, in the Nineveh Province in northern Iraq.
A senior source said to the Mirror: "There are a wide range of activities taking place around Mosul which allows our commanders to shape the dispositions of enemy forces prior to any engagement. Seizing enemy commanders has always been a key driver in changing the way your opponent thinks, it will unsettle them and may force them to make mistakes.
"From our point of view killing the enemy is not always the answer. If we can get a commander to change sides, as we did in Afghanistan, this can have major influence on people inside Mosul and save lives."
This week US Defence Secretary Ash Carter asked the UK to send extra "military trainers" to Iraq as they deployed 16 Apache helicopters to Mosul. On 3 May, US Navy Seal Charlie Keating, 31, from Arizona was killed by IS fighters near the city of Irbil, roughly 55 miles from Mosul, after the militants broke through Kurdish Peshmerga lines.
Another report from the city says that British-trained Iraqi special forces in civilian clothes killed IS guards in order to assist the SAS snatch a commander. A source said: "The SAS are at the heart of this operation but it is very important that much of the credit goes to the Iraqis to bolster their standing."