A NEW SAS-led taskforce will deploy the full might of Britain’s military muscle in the event of another attack on UK tourists abroad.
The plan emerged as Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the 30 Britons killed on a beach at Sousse in Tunisia by Islamic State fundamentalists last summer. Another 26 Britons were injured.
A 150-strong naval force of Royal Marines and the Special Boat Squadron will go on permanent patrol in the Mediterranean.
They will back up a spearhead of SAS troops based in Cyprus who will provide an immediate response to terror attacks in popular tourist destinations in southern Europe and North Africa.
We need to make sure that we have a contingency in place to deal with British holidaymakers being taken hostage
The plan emerged as Foreign Office travel advice warns holidaymakers heading to such resorts of an ongoing terrorist threat from Islamic extremists.
Destinations at risk include Greece, Egypt, Morocco and Spain.
About 12 million Britons travel to Spain’s Costas and islands each year.
While overwhelmed Tunisian authorities did their best to contain last year’s attack, there were no British assets on hand to assist in the hunt for the prime suspect, or stop further copycat attacks.
Military sources yesterday confirmed that the Special Purpose Task Group would also be proactive in dealing people smugglers and pirates.
Its first planned action will see the SPTG form the “tip of the spear” and lead 1,000 British troops into Libya to combat IS forces there.
On Wednesday General Gordon Messenger, due to be vice chief of the defence staff in June, will lead a British contingent in high level talks in Rome to discuss military plans with European counterparts.
The SAS-led task force has spent the past five weeks developing relationships with countries across North Africa, including Tunisia and Morocco.
Its primary role will be to coordinate an evacuation of holidaymakers or mount a rescue mission.
A senior military source said yesterday: “We are aware of the potential targets that Islamic State could attack.
“We need to make sure that we have a contingency in place to deal with British holidaymakers being taken hostage or laying siege to a hotel. There are many options.”