Sunday, February 14, 2010

Troops secure objectives in mission

Press Association

Picture by SSgt Will Craig

Military chiefs are moving to win the support of the Afghan population after securing "key objectives" in a fierce onslaught against the Taliban that claimed the life of a British soldier.

Gordon Brown led tributes to the soldier killed during the launch of Operation Moshtarak - the biggest offensive by Nato troops in Afghanistan since the start of the eight-year war.

The Prime Minister also hailed the bravery shown by British troops as military chiefs declared the first stage of the operation a success after coalition forces moved in on Taliban strongholds in central Helmand.

Comrades said the soldier, from 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, was killed by an explosion while in a vehicle patrol during the early stages of the operation.

Despite the tragedy, more than 1,000 British troops engaged in the long-awaited launch of Operation Moshtarak had secured their "key objectives" in the early hours, Major General Gordon Messenger, the chief of the defence staff's strategic communications officer, said.

Maj Gen Messenger said "low numbers" of insurgents were killed during the attacks - but that efforts by British troops were successful.

British forces' efforts are focused on gaining control of targets in the surrounding Nad-e-Ali district. Mr Brown said in the next few days there would be a push to deliver aid and public services in the area in a bid to win the support of the local population.

Maj Gen Messenger told how British troops had taken control of areas with "minimal interference" from the Taliban. He said military chiefs on the ground were "very pleased with how it has gone - the key objectives have been secured and have been done so with minimal interference".

US-led airstrikes rained down on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in Helmand province, where up to 1,000 insurgents are believed to be holed up.

An MoD spokeswoman said 1,200 British troops were engaged in the offensive - and a further 3,000 were available - as the operation, led by US Marine Corps, started. Soldiers from the Grenadier Guards Battle Group, Coldstream Guards and the Royal Welsh were taking part, with the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team. Operation Moshtarak - which means together in the Dari language - involves around 15,000 International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and Afghan National Army troops.

No comments:

Post a Comment