SAS launch operation to save 20 troops surrounded by Taliban - reports

23 August 2021, 08:50 | Updated: 24 August 2021, 06:22

Special Forces used a Hercules C-130J aircraft for the desert rescue.
Special Forces used a Hercules C-130J aircraft for the desert rescue. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Special Forces troops launched an operation to save 20 soldiers surrounded by the Taliban in a desert raid, according to reports.

The move comes after a group of soldiers ended up stranded in the Afghan province of Kandahar, it was reported.

The troops sent an SOS signal to their UK HQ, requesting immediate extraction from their desert location, where they had gone into hiding.

However, troops were unable to use the airfield as it was swarmed with members of the Taliban, according to the Daily Mail.

They sent coordinates to the headquarters through coded messages, leaving Royal Air Force (RAF) chiefs to find an aircraft that could land and take off in the desert for the quick rescue.

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Upon the arrival of the Special Forces aircraft, online flight tracker websites picked up the RAF Hercules plane, which landed in the pitch black of the night.

It had turned off its identification sensors, meaning it would not be discovered or tracked on any radars, securing the location in which the soldiers were hiding.

Rescuers donned night-vision goggles to carry out the evacuation, before making their swift exit.

The aircraft only later reappeared on flight radars as it headed in the direction of a military base in Dubai.

A source told the Mail: "It was a very hush, hush mission.

"Kandahar had fallen to the Taliban on Friday and the guys were down there for five days after that.

"The enemy were rampant and killing a lot of Afghan Special Forces whom the SAS had been working with.

"So it was a very urgent mission."

The rescue operation was put together by the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing, with the RAF's 47 Squadron being behind the aircraft and crew.

The Hercules C130-J is the RAF’s primary tactical transport aircraft, according to their site.

However, it is set to be withdrawn from service in 2022, a decade earlier than originally planned.