British anti-Taliban push going well: London

1st August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain said a military operation to clear out Taliban fighters from a stronghold in southern Afghanistan was going "very well", as the push entered its third day Sunday.

Hundreds of British troops are involved in Operation Tor Shezada, or "Black Prince", alongside Afghan colleagues around Sayedebad in central Helmand Province, where the Taliban insurgency is strong.

The operation began in darkness Friday with soldiers being dropped in from helicopters.

"Operation Tor Shezada is progressing very well," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

"Quantities of improvised explosive devices have been recovered and shuras (meetings) have been held with village chiefs in an attempt to offer reassurance."

The troops, spearheaded by 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, have moved in to clear compounds and establish patrol bases in the area.

No casualties have been reported so far and there has been only limited contact with Taliban militants.

Major Simon Ridgway, of 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, said British and Afghan forces had faced limited small-arms fire in the initial stages of the operation.

"What we need to do is to remove their ability to operate. The key thing is their access to weapons, to ammunition, to improvised explosive devices," he told BBC radio.

"By securing and dominating the area, we reduce the freedom of movement for the insurgent and then, together with the local people -- by convincing them that their future will be better under their own local government -- collectively we can establish security that stops the insurgent having the ability to influence and intimidate the local people."

Sayedebad has a small community of around 6,000 Afghans.

© 2010 AFP

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