British troops return to Sangin after request from Afghan army
The mission required special permission from Defence Secretary Philip Hammond
British troops secretly returned to the scene of some of the Afghan conflict's bloodiest fighting to help government forces battle insurgents.
About 80 British soldiers travelled to Sangin to fight alongside the Afghan National Army (ANA), just months before it assumes full responsibility for the country's security.
The mission was kept secret until its completion earlier this week, and required special permission from Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, according to The Sunday Times.
The Afghan authorities have been fighting the insurgency with little or no help from international forces that have been in the country since 2001's US-led invasion.
All Nato combat missions are planned to end by the end of next year, and the 100,000 foreign troops deployed across the country have already begun to withdraw from the battlefield.
The US provides the bulk of the military presence, with 68,000 troops, with the UK's 9,000 the second most.
Last month President Hamid Karzai announced that the remaining 91 districts under Nato protection were to begin transition to government control, and as withdrawal looms there are tentative parallel efforts to encourage negotiations with the insurgency.
The Ministry of Defence said specialist advisers from the Brigade Advisory Group, made up of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, provided support to the UK-mentored 3/215 Brigade for the eight-day mission, "in line" with their current advisory role.
In a statement, it said: "In support of the Afghan forces who now have the security lead across the country, UK personnel do on occasion operate outside the usual UK area of operations in central Helmand in an advisory capacity.
"These out-of-area operations have been a long-standing element of the UK mission in Afghanistan and are completely in line with our current role of providing training, advice and assistance to the Afghan National Security Forces."
The statement added that Sangin "remains a challenging area" and it is now for the Afghan forces to deal with insurgents.
A number of insurgents were detained and killed during the operation, more than 30 improvised explosive devices were found and destroyed, and two vehicles were seized along with ammunition and weapons.
There were no British casualties, but a number of ANA soldiers were killed, The Sunday Times added.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting position has risen ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Internal Sales Executive ...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the installa...
£30000 - £35500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...