British troops launch anti-Taliban op in Helmand
Kabul: British and Afghan troops on Friday
launched a military operation to secure a transport route in
Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, one of the most
volatile theatres of the nine-year war.
The operation began in Sayedebad town in Nad Ali, a
district bordering Marjah, where US Marines in February
launched one of the biggest operations of the nearly nine-year
Britain's defence ministry said Operation Tor Shezada, or
"black prince", would improve security in Marjah by securing a
transportation route between the two areas that would
"increase freedom of movement for locals".
The offensive involved the 1st Battalion, The Duke Of
Lancaster's Regiment, the statement said, without giving
further operational details.
It described Sayedebad as a town of 6,000 residents just
north of Marjah.
"The operation is currently ongoing and reports back from
the commanders on the ground say it is progressing according
to plan," Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, spokesman for
Task Force Helmand, was quoted as saying.
Similar to the aims of the Marjah offensive, Tor Shezada
is aimed at driving Taliban from the area so that government
control can be re-established, to be followed by development
projects such as schools, clinics and markets, the statement
NATO and the United States have close to 150,000 troops
in the country, with 30,000 deployed in the Taliban's southern
heartland in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
Britain has around 10,000 troops in Helmand and a recent
reorganisation of southern deployments has seen up to 20,000
US troops, mostly Marines, move into the province, taking over
some regions from the British.