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Asia-pacific

British troops hand over volatile Afghan district to US

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-20

British forces left the volatile Sangin district in the northern Helmand province on Monday. Britain, which has 9,500 soldiers battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, suffered more than 100 deaths in Sangin since 2001.

AP - Britain’s military handed the U.S. responsibility Monday for a dangerous district in southern Afghanistan that has been the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting by British troops for the past four years.

British forces arrived in Helmand province’s northern Sangin district in 2006 and have lost more than 100 troops there in fierce fighting with Taliban insurgents--nearly a third of the 337 fatalities it has suffered in Afghanistan since 2001.

NATO said the 40 Commando Royal Marines were being reassigned throughout the center of Helmand, which remains a volatile battleground even though tens of thousands of NATO and Afghan troops moved into the area in February.

“British forces have served in Sangin over the last four years and should be very proud of the achievements they have made in one of the most challenging areas of Afghanistan,” British defense secretary Liam Fox said.

Under the new NATO deployment plan, which was announced in July, the U.S. will operate mainly in the north and south of Helmand, with British, Danish and Estonian troops working in the heavily populated central areas.

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 American general in Afghanistan and the operational chief for the allied forces, said in July the British move was part of his effort to consolidate and better organize forces in Helmand.

Britain, the second largest contributor of international troops after the United States, currently has 9,500 troops in Afghanistan. About 1,200 are being moved from Sangin into central Helmand province.

Rodriguez rejected the notion the U.S. was bailing out British forces, noting Britain has taken high losses in Sangin.

On Sunday, a joint Afghan and coalition force detained several suspected Taliban insurgents and seized 45 pounds (20 kilograms) of opium in neighboring Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand, the coalition said. The joint force was tracking a Taliban bomb-maker who specialized in building detonators for improvised explosive devices.

 

Date created : 2010-09-20

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