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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
UK troops in Taleban offensive
British troops in the Garmsir district. 16/05/2007
Garmsir is a frontline in the war between UK troops and the Taleban
British forces have carried out an operation against the Taleban in Garmsir, southern Afghanistan.

More than 500 British troops were joined by the Afghan national army, working overnight to push the Taleban back from the town centre.

Forces also constructed a large bridge for armoured vehicles to cross, in order to push further south.

Garmsir town, in Helmand province, has been a frontline between Taleban and British forces for the last six months.

The area is on the fringes of Nato and government control.

BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead spent the night embedded with British troops.

He said the main part of the operation was to build a huge bridge across a canal, to allow heavy armoured vehicles to push further into the Taleban controlled south.

Company sergeant major Andrew Robinson said the operation went to plan.

"We succeeded in what we wanted to do. The bridge went in, we cleared the area and also we cleared the compounds."

On Wednesday, British ambassador Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles said the UK presence in Afghanistan would need to remain for decades to help rebuild the country.

The number of UK troops in the country is also being boosted to around 7,700 this year, based primarily in Helmand province.

British troops operate under the Nato-led Isaf force, a UN-mandated organisation covering about 31,000 troops.

They are backed by about 30,000 Afghan troops and a similar number of Afghan policemen.


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