Royal Marines of 40 Commando provide support to other elements of the Unit during operations against Taliban fighters in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, last month
[Picture: Jim Gibson]
ANA and ISAF forces have been conducting operations in the north of Helmand since the beginning of November and have made great advances in Gereshk and Sangin.
An operation is now underway to retake Musa Qaleh - the last significant town under Taliban control. Troops from the Afghan National Army are leading the operation on the ground, supported by UK and US air and ground capabilities. The operation is now in its third day.
Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
"The current operation to put Musa Qaleh back under the control of the Afghan Government is now underway. This is an important operation, but the most important thing about it is that Afghan forces are leading. They are doing so with the assistance of international forces, including British forces.
"The Afghan Government has long said that it would retake Musa Qaleh from the scourge of the Taliban when the time is right. The time is now right."
"During this, my fifth visit to Afghanistan, I have continued to be impressed by the increasingly improved capabilities demonstrated by the Afghan forces."
Commander ISAF, US General Dan McNeill, said:
"Right now it is going to plan. As to how tough the fighting will be or will not be, that's up to the insurgents."