Saturday, June 6, 2009
THESE dramatic images show soldiers from the region taking part in a daring three-day raid on a Taliban stronghold.
The successful operation, in the northern Helmand region of Afghanistan, began early last Friday and saw troops from 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers strike at the heart of an enemy base near the village of Yatimchay.
The operation, alongside Afghan National Security Forces, claimed the lives of two soldiers from the 19 Light Brigade Reconnaissance Force - Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett and Corporal Stephen Bolger - when their vehicle struck a mine on Saturday.
But their Fusilier comrades, many of whom were on their first tour of duty, managed to overcome the challenges of the terrain and successfully flush out the enemy.
Fusilier Dean 'Ronnie' Corbett, 20, from Urmston, Manchester, narrowly avoided being hurt in a bomb blast. He said: "I've only been in the Army for eight months. Everyone was really touchy before the op - well at least I was.
"A 2,000lb bomb dropped close to us and made me jump but I quickly focussed on what I was doing and got on with it. I carry about 70lb of kit and as a light machine gun gunner I provide fire support for my section. I saw lots of buildings with the enemy in being blown up.
"Whilst I am relieved that no one in the battalion has been hurt I am sad that two soldiers were killed nearby on Saturday."
Fusilier Chris 'Smudge' Smith, 19, from Atherton, near Bolton, also took part in the operation. He said: "This was my first big operation since my arrival in Afghanistan almost two months ago and I was up for it.
"Having been here for almost two months I was used to the heat, weight and conditions here but as D-Day drew closer it did cross my mind that I would be doing something dangerous.
"My job was to help clear a compound to ensure that there were no enemy inside. Luckily none of us got hurt, however, I did see blood all over the floor from where an Afghan soldier was shot shortly before I arrived."
In recent times, Taliban forces had driven the local population from their homes and made the area a no-mans land. From their stronghold the Taliban were able to provide the arms for attacks on coalition troops.
Sergeant Mark 'Spud' Taylor, 27, from Salford, was worried for his troops because of the number of home-made bombs around, but was delighted with how they performed.
He said "They did really well - I was shocked. They have progressed so well in a short period of time - from blank-firing in February to putting what they have learnt into practice in May in unknown territory. "
[blockquote name=Fusilier Dean 'Ronnie' Corbett]
A 2,000lb bomb dropped close to us and made me jump but I quickly focussed on what I was doing and got on with it.
Now, the local population is being encouraged to go back to their homes and begin farming again.
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Calder, Commanding Officer of Second Fusilier Battle Group said: `This operation will bring lasting benefits for the people of Musa Qual'eh.
"With our Afghan National Army (ANA) and Police (ANP) partners, the Second Fusiliers Battle Group took the Taliban by surprise and quickly achieved success.
"Now Yatimchay is secure," he said.
"Afghans are returning to their homes and their livelihoods. I am proud of the professionalism and resolve of the soldiers of the whole Battle Group, for many of whom this is their first operational tour."