UK to withdraw troops from violent Afghan region

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - 23:31

London: Britain will withdraw its 1,000
troops from the violent-hit Sangin region of Afghanistan where
they have suffered heavy losses and allow US troops to take
charge, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said on Wednesday.

Sangin, a valley in the north of Helmand province has
been one of the deadliest areas for British forces, account
for a third of its 312 dead in the nine-year-old war.
Fox said the NATO-led ISAF force would restructure its
forces in southern Afghanistan "so that it can consolidate a
US marine brigade in northern Helmand which will assume
responsibility for security in Sangin later this year."

"This will simplify current command arrangements and
enable UK troops to be redeployed to reinforce progress in the
key districts of central Helmand," Fox added.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has made
Afghanistan his top foreign priority also confirmed that he
wanted to bring British combat troops home within five years.

The British Defence Secretary said that the move was a
logical redeployment, and not a withdrawal, because there were
now more American troops in the area following President
Barack Obama`s troop surge in the war-ravaged country.

British military described Sangin as an area with deep
Taliban affiliation, riven by tribal conflict and a major
centre for opium production.
British soldiers who are leaving Sangin will focus on
operations in central Helmand where they will work with Danish
and Estonian allies, Fox told the House of Commons.

An estimated 300 troops from a reserve battalion based
in Cyprus would temporarily reinforce central Helmand until
the changes had taken effect later this year.

Britain`s 9,500 troops in Afghanistan are based in
Helmand, scene of the Afghan war`s worst fighting. British
troops account for a third of foreign troops in Helmand, but
are responsible for protecting a larger share of the
province`s population.

The withdrawal of British troops from Sangin would
help to redress the imbalance.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - 23:31

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