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Operation BARRAS

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Operation Barras was the name given to a hostage rescue operation by the Special Air Service and Parachute Regiment in Sierra Leone on 10 September 2000.

Eleven members of the Royal Irish Regiment led by Major Alan Marshall and their Sierra Leone Army liaison officer, Lieutenant Mousa Bangura were held hostage by an armed rebel group known as the West Side Boys led by Foday Kallay on August 25, 2000.

Some controversy exists regarding the mission of the British troops; British sources initially maintained that the soldiers were returning to Freetown from a meeting with Jordanian United Nations forces when they were captured, however, the Nigerian UN commander, General Garba, claims that the British soldiers never met with the Jordanian troops. British authorities later admitted that their soldiers may have been captured while deep in rebel territory.

On September 3, five of the eleven British soldiers were released in exchange for a satellite phone and medical supplies. Further negotiations then broke down and Foday Kallay threatened to kill the remaining hostages. It was then that British Prime Minister Tony Blair authorized the mission and the whole thing was over in about 20 minutes.