SAS hit squad sent to Iraq to hunt down ISIS jihadists after militants ‘started learning how to avoid air strikes’
Squadron diverted from Afghanistan mission in a bid to target Isis leaders
Executioner Jihadi John believed to be a primary target for 60-strong team
Troopers will also pinpoint targets within Iraq to assist with air strikes
Comes amid reports Isis fanatics executed 100 of its own foreign fighters
Militants recruited from abroad killed for trying to flee from Isis stronghold
By JULIAN ROBINSON FOR MAILONLINE
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2881633/SAS-hit-squad-sent-Iraq-hunt-ISIS-jihadists-militants-started-learning-avoid-air-strikes.html#ixzz3MXNE0Kam
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Up to 60 SAS fighters are heading to Iraq to hunt down Islamic State leaders after militants started learning how to avoid airstrikes, it has been reported.
The full squadron of troopers had initially been dispatched to Afghanistan for a separate operation, but have been diverted to battle Isis fanatics.
There have been reports this morning that one of their primary targets will be Jihadi John, the Briton believed to have killed British and American hostages in a series of gruesome executions.
The Sun quotes a senior Whitehall source as saying: ‘We made some good early progress against IS but they know how to avoid the jets now. The only way to defeat them is to get up close to them on the ground.
Initially, the squadron, from Hereford, had been due to travel to Afghanistan to hunt Taliban leaders before they were ordered to turn their attentions to Isis, the newspaper reports.
While hunting for top Islamic State leaders on the ground, they will also help to pinpoint targets for air strikes.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman has said it does not comment on special forces operations.
It comes a month after the Mail on Sunday revealed how SAS troops with sniper rifles and heavy machine guns had killed hundreds of Islamic State extremists in a series of deadly quad-bike ambushes inside Iraq.
At the time, defence sources indicated that soldiers from the elite fighting unit had eliminated ‘up to eight terrorists per day’ in the daring raids, carried out during the past four weeks.
Until then it had been acknowledged only that the SAS was operating in a reconnaissance role in Iraq and was not involved in combat.
But The Mail on Sunday was told that small groups of soldiers were being dropped into IS territory in RAF Chinook helicopters – to take on the enemy.
Targets were said to have been identified by drones operated either from an SAS base or by the soldiers themselves on the ground, who were using smaller devices.
The troops were said to be equipped with quad bikes – four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles that can have machine guns bolted on to a frame. They then hunted out IS units and were said to be attacking the terrorists using the element of surprise and under the cover of darkness.
The missions were reported to have taken place on a near daily basis in the previous four weeks and the SAS soldiers had expended so much ammunition that regimental quartermasters had been forced to order a full replenishment of stocks of machine-gun rounds and sniper bullets.
Isis forced to tighten its grip on foreign fighters trying to flee as morale plunges in grim reality of conflict
Islamic State extremists have executed a hundred of its own foreign fighters for trying to flee from the regime, it has been reported.
Isis has set up its own military police as part of a brutal crackdown on its soldiers amid reports morale has plummeted among fighters.
Dozens of militants have seen their homes raided after failing to report for duty with hundreds dragged away under arrest.
Isis bosses have even ordered militants to carry an identification document containing a strict list of regulations outlining how they must behave and setting out what mission they are assigned to.
The Financial Times reports a source as verifying that 100 foreign Isis fighters have been executed after trying to flee the Isis stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.
It quotes another source as saying: ‘Morale isn’t falling – it’s hit the ground.
‘Local fighters are frustrated – they feel they’re doing most of the work and dying… foreign fighters who thought they were on an adventure are now exhausted.’
Many fighters are said to have been angered about being sent to the Syrian town of Kobani, which has been at the centre of a major bombing campaign by coalition forces.
The jihadist group proclaimed a ‘caliphate’ over parts of Iraq and Syria nearly six months ago after sweeping through Iraq’s Sunni heartland and throwing the country into chaos.
A wave of attacks by Isis in August against Sinjar and towards the borders of Kurdistan triggered a US intervention that has now grown into a 60-nation anti-IS coalition.
The strikes were extended into Syria on September 23.
The military fightback appears to have gradually turned the tide on the jihadists, who have suffered a string of setbacks in Iraq in recent weeks.
In Washington,the Pentagon has announced that three top IS leaders in Iraq had been killed in US air strikes in recent weeks.