The United Nations resolution calling for a no-fly zone was a useful pretext for the Western air war against Libya, but it came with one very specific restriction: absolutely no ground troops were to be allowed in the country.
So imagine the surprise of the six western soldiers in Misrata who were talking to rebel fighters only to discover that they were being broadcast worldwide on al-Jazeera. The six are believed to be British soldiers, and the front-line reporter said they may be helping to plan helicopter attacks.
Spotting the cameras, the six quickly scrambled from view, but the damage was done, and it could wind up being the second major embarrassment for Britain in this war. The first, of course, was when a group of SAS soldiers escorting a diplomat bumbled into the outskirts of Benghazi to meet with the rebels, and were immediately taken prisoner.
This case might be more serious internationally, however. The UN Security Council was very clear about “no ground troops” and these are most assuredly ground troops. Though NATO has had little problem in spreading the definition of a no-fly zone to fit their interests, the new revelation could do massive damage to the war’s already floundering international credibility.