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Mission 38 - Overview
Operation Barras

Occra Hills, Sierra Leone—September 10, 2000: The fate of six soldiers abducted in West Africa lies in a perilous rescue attempt by British troops.

The light is faint and the coast is quiet when the choppers sweep in. At 6:00 in the morning, there is a leap of faith that the roar from three CH-47s won’t wake the sleeping rebels. If it does, the hostages will die.

Six members of the Royal Irish Regiment are held captive by one of Sierra Leone’s most fearless and violent rebel groups, the West Side Boys. The hour is early and the kidnappers lay sleeping, unaware of the intrepid assault that is unfolding around them.

The Chinooks rapidly lower 150 British paratroopers. In succession, the soldiers descend chest-deep into the swamp. They wade through 500 meters of thick, murky water to the dry land south of Magbeni, Sierra Leone. It is the jungle, rampant with fierce animals like bush pigs and wild chimps. And it is rampant with military guerrillas.

From the surrounding swamps emerge Special Air Service snipers. Patient, silent, undetected: snipers have observed the hostages for nearly a week from the mire. At last, they mobilize with stealth, wading slowly to the jungle’s edge, where they lead the troops through 150 meters of dense foliage to the edge of the village. But stealth is no guarantee: As they approach, enemy bullets sear through the tangle of flora surrounding them.

Simultaneously, 24 Special Air Service agents and more paratroopers descend swiftly down ropes, infiltrating the enemy retreat across the river. They silently approach the crude huts marking the village of Geri Bana, where the lives of six members of the Royal Irish Regiment have hung in the balance for 16 agonizing days.

Barely visible in the faint morning light, the rebels are slumbering in their hammocks when the SAS unleash a rude awakening: a sudden barrage of fire from M16 rifles and machine guns, and an explosion of flash bang grenades. Deaf and blinded, the enemy is weakened for five precious seconds.

And an astounding rescue begins.

Release Date: February 28, 2005

Operation Barras

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