Who dares wins
At about 3am yesterday the SAS squadron commander in charge of the rescue force summoned his team at their base inside the heavily fortified green zone. The force consisted mainly of SAS troopers, backed by about 50 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines — all members of the Special Forces Support Group codenamed Task Force Maroon.
Defence sources told The Times that helicopters with reconnaissance cameras and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, which can monitor movements on the ground from 20,000ft, were deployed. The men who spearheaded the rescue arrived in a convoy of cars disguised as local taxis and pick-up trucks.
Half the team set up a cordon several streets away from the target so that innocent civilians did not blunder into an operation that might end in a shoot-out. The 25 men who burst into the two-storey building used classic hostage-rescue techniques, storming every room simultaneously to ensure no one escaped.
They found the three hostages sitting bound on the floor of a ground-floor room. Their captors had fled. No shots were fired. In case the kidnappers were lurking nearby the hostages were cut free, taken out of the building and bundled into the back of an army Land Rover. Less than two minutes after the rescue force had entered the building, the three Westerners were on their way to freedom.