Britain is to send in elite forces to smash the trafficking gangs and significantly scale back its efforts to rescue desperate migrants taking boats from Libya to Europe .
EU ministers are expected to launch the next phase of the mission to stop the migrant crisis following high-level talks on Monday in Luxembourg, it has emerged.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK needed to ‘get to grips’ with the problem and build up ‘better intelligence’ on the smuggling gangs making money from the trade reports Daily Mail.
Special Forces will be sent to spearhead military operations targeting the traffickers under proposals being drawn up for ministers.
Under the plan, the SAS will work with specialist forces from other EU countries to help pinpoint the leaders of ruthless gangs, the vessels they are using and the routes taken.
Initially, they will provide ‘intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance’, but they could then be tasked with ‘disrupting and destroying’ vehicles, ships and boats.
If approved, it would mean British boots on the ground in an area where six SAS men were captured during an operation in 2011, months before the death of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.
The proposal comes as the Royal Navy is set to significantly reduce its role in tackling the crisis. The Government announced HMS Bulwark, the former flagship, would be replaced by HMS Enterprise, a survey vessel just half the size, next month.