Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Scots and Afghan troops have destroyed a major Taliban drug centre in a series of night raids in Helmand.
In two separate helicopter strikes, about 450 troops from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and 100 Afghan Army soldiers, found and destroyed more than 5500 kg of opium paste in a large and well coordinated air-land operation.
The operation destroyed ten narcotic manufacturing facilities and as well as the opium, it netted 220 kg of morphine, more than 100 kg of heroin, 148 kg of cannabis plus a range of chemicals used in the drug production process including 5800 kg of ammonium chloride and 2500 kg of sulphur. Also found were eight AK-47 machine guns, three pistols, 16 full magazines and 900 rounds of ammunition.
The operation was backed by British and Canadian helicopters and multi-national fast aircraft including US jets flown from USS Eisenhower in the Gulf. British Royal Engineer IED experts and Royal Artillery forward air controllers were also involved.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, the Commanding Officer of 3 SCOTS, said: "This has been an important operation against the illegal narcotics industry and represents a significant setback for the insurgency in Helmand Province.
"The Jocks of 3 SCOTS Battle Group simply provided the wider security to the professional and courageous Afghan security forces who have destroyed a considerable amount of narcotic material.
"The link between the insurgents and the narcotics industry is proven as militants use the money derived from the drug trade as a principle source of funding to arm themselves with weapons and conduct their campaign of intimidation and violence.
"By destroying this opium and the drug making facilities we are directly target their fighting capability. The operation has been well received by the Afghan people."