UK deploys troops to Helmand as Afghan Taliban gains ground

Britain deploys troops to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where Afghan officials say battle against Taliban militants for control of Sangin district is still ongoing

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers drive at an outpost in Helmand Province, December 20, 2015

The British Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday that a number of military personnel who are part of a larger NATO team had been deployed to Camp Shorabak in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province to act an "advisory role" without attending combat operations.

A spokesperson for the ministry said, "These personnel are part of a larger Nato team which is providing advice to the Afghan National Army. They are not deployed in a combat role and will not deploy outside the camp."

About 450 British troops remain in Afghanistan mentoring and supporting the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and the Afghan Security Ministries although UK operations in country came to an end in 2014.

Taliban militants declared on Monday that they had captured most of the Sangin district in Helmand after two days of violence in which at least 90 people were killed.

However the governor of the southern Afghan province of Helmand Mirza Khan Rahimi stated that the Afghan authorities are still in control of Sangin District.

An Afghan Defence Ministry spokesperson, Dawlat Waziri, also said that Afghan commandos and special forces had been sent to the area, adding that the army facilities and the government buildings are still controlled by Afghan authorities.

The battle for Sangin came after six American NATO soldiers were killed near Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase on Monday in a suicide bomb attack un what was described as the deadliest assault on NATO forces since August.

In the wake of Kunduz attacks conducted by Taliban in October in country’s north, US President Barack Obama cancelled his earlier decision to pull most of the remaining 9,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Helmand’s probable loss may lead to speculation as to the ability of the Afghan government to combat insurgencies without foreign military help.

TRTWorld and agencies