The Sunday Mirror reported that British operatives had been active in Libya for weeks before the current air war:
Hundreds of British SAS soldiers have been operating with rebel groups inside Libya for three weeks, the Sunday Mirror can reveal today.
Two special forces units, nicknamed “Smash” teams for their destructive ability, are hunting Colonel Gaddafi’s long-range surface-to-air missile systems, which could launch attacks on jets or commercial airliners.
The crack troops have been racing against time to pinpoint the Libyan Army’s most potent strategic weapon, the Russian-made SAM 5 missile systems. Despite their age, the systems have a range of more than 200 miles and the capability to hit targets across the Mediterranean.
The two SAS units, joined by signallers, engineers and medics, are simultaneously establishing positions on the ground in case any Western jets are downed during an air attack.
[….] GMA News expands on this story further, saying they were seized by rebel forces:
LONDON — Libyan rebels have captured a British special forces unit in the east of the country after a secret diplomatic mission to make contact with opposition leaders backfired, Britain’s Sunday Times reported.
The team, understood to number up to eight SAS soldiers, was intercepted as they escorted a junior diplomat through rebel-held territory, the newspaper said.
The Foreign Office said in a brief statement it could neither “confirm nor deny” the report.
Earlier on Saturday the Geneva-based Human Rights Solidarity group, which employs a number of Libyan exiles, told Reuters by telephone that rebels had seized a team of “eight special forces personnel”. Both the Ministry of Defense and Foreign Office repeatedly declined to comment on the group’s report.
The SAS intervention apparently angered Libyan opposition figures, who ordered the soldiers locked up on a military base, according to the Sunday Times.