U.K. diplomatic team leaves Libya

A small British diplomatic team that "experienced difficulties" in eastern Libya while initiating contacts with the rebel-backed opposition has left the country, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague says.

Rebels reportedly captured special forces with team

A Libyan rebel fighter holds an anti-aircraft missile launcher on Sunday as he looks to the sky in the oil town of Ras Lanouf in eastern Libya. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press)

A small British diplomatic team sent to eastern Libya to initiate contacts with the rebel-backed opposition has left the country, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement released Sunday.

Hague was quoted by Reuters as saying the team "experienced difficulties" in Benghazi, but there was no mention of a published report that said British soldiers assigned to the mission had been captured by opponents of Moammar Gadhafi.

The Sunday Times reported that up to eight special forces soldiers, armed but in plain clothes, were captured while escorting a junior British diplomat through rebel-held territory.

Meanwhile, Sky News reported the Special Air Service (SAS) team has left the country aboard British naval vessel HMS Cumberland.

Earlier, U.K. Defence Secretary Liam Fox said his government was in touch with the diplomatic team in Benghazi.

When pressed on whether the diplomatic team was in danger, Fox would only say that, "It's a very difficult situation to be able to understand in detail."

"There are a number of different opposition groups to Colonel Gadhafi in Libya who do seem relatively disparate," Fox added.

The Times said the special forces intervention angered Libyan opposition figures who ordered the soldiers to be locked up on a military base.

Fox was careful to note in an Associated Press interview that any talks about establishing a no-fly zone over Libya are at "the early stage of contingency planning," saying that more details will be discussed later in the week by leaders and NATO.

He also stressed that "there was no and there is no plan to use British land forces" in Libya.

With files from The Associated Press