Up to a dozen gunmen are believed to have been captured when a British special forces team raided a terrorist “safe house” in Syria.
The team, which contained four Gurkha soldiers, had been told to capture the Islamic State fighters alive. After approaching their hideout, an interpreter told the men inside to surrender.
But when they refused, the Gurkhas emerged and brandished their renowned curved kukri knives, The Daily Star reports.
The interpreter is then said to have shouted: “These four men are members of the Gurkhas. They come from the hills of Nepal.
“They are famous warriors who do not fear death. If they have to come in to get you they will behead you with their curved knives.”
A defence source said the windows in one of the buildings soon opened and the gunmen hurled out their weapons.
The source said of last February’s encounter: “After about five minutes the terrorists began to emerge looking terrified. They were holding their hands as if in prayer and some of them were crying.
“They were told to strip naked to ensure they were unarmed and not rigged with explosives.”
“All the way back to the SAS base the prisoners were pleading through the interpreter for their lives to be spared. The Gurkhas were actually pretty fed-up”.
Up to 12 members of the Gurkhas are believed to be serving in the SAS, with a slightly smaller number in the SBS (Special Boat Service).
The troops, recruited from the Nepalese highlands, must serve at least three years in the Brigade of Gurkhas before applying for special forces selection.
Gurkhas are renowned for their supreme fitness and bravery.
The defence source added: “They couldn’t take their eyes off the four Gurkhas who stared at them with blank expressions and with their knives drawn looking as though they were itching to use them. The IS fighters were convinced the Gurkhas were going to behead them.”
The SAS have been trying to encourage more Gurkhas to attempt special forces selection because of their exceptional mountain warfare skills.
The Ministry of Defence said it does not comment on special forces.