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We're still in control, Royal Marines tell Afghans after Taleban onslaught

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Published Date: 13 October 2008
ROYAL Marines were patrolling Helmand yesterday in an attempt to reassure locals the city is still under government control, following an attack from insurgents who tried to overrun the British headquarters in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.
More than 100 Taleban were killed in fierce clashes in Helmand over the weekend, with at least 60 bodies ending up in Lashkar Gah's main hospital.

The city has been rocked by suicide blasts in the past, and the Taleban have launched deadly ambushes on British patrols in the outlying countryside, but this was the first time they have ever tried to take the city.

The British headquarters is full of senior army officers, development staff and diplomats, but there is only one company of Royal Marines from 42 Commando to protect it.

There are also a small number of SAS in Lashkar Gah, training the Afghan police.

Until recently the area was thought of as safe.

British officials said it was impossible to guess the insurgents' objective because they didn't get close enough, but residents were left in no doubt the insurgents were trying to overrun the town centre, and they were warned to expect yet more fighting last night.

There were further reports in Lashkar Gah the insurgents planned to hit the police station and the prison, to free fellow insurgents, which echoes a similar attack in Kandahar city, in June.

Brigadier General Richard Blanchette, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, said: "If the insurgents planned a spectacular attack prior to the winter, this was a spectacular failure."

Afghan troops fought through the night on Saturday after Lashkar Gah was surrounded by almost 200 heavily armed Taleban fighters.

They were backed by Apache helicopter gunships, unmanned predator drones and RAF fighter jets. The Apaches launched a series of air strikes to push the Taleban back.

At least 60 insurgents were killed and another 25 were wounded in eight hours of bitter fighting, on four sides of the provincial capital.

Another 40 insurgents were killed during a three-day operation to retake Nad Ali, a district eight miles west of Lashkar Gah, which fell into Taleban hands in August.

Royal Marines and SAS troopers were on constant standby during the battle, as fighting raged just a few miles from their camp.

Lieutenant Colonel Woody Page, a British forces spokesman, said: "We could hear small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades in the distance until 3am."

News of the attack came as General David McKiernan, the US commander of almost all the international troops in Afghanistan, insisted: "We are not losing," at a press conference in Kabul yesterday.

However, he admitted there were not enough troops to secure the country.

The attack came on the same day that western officials launched an initiative in Lashkar Gah to give poppy farmers wheat seeds, in a bid to undermine the Taleban's income from opium. The Taleban have made numerous attempts to attack Western military bases or district centres, but have usually suffered catastrophic losses.

An attempt to threaten Kandahar City in 2005 saw Nato forces kill up to 1,200 Taleban. An attempt in June to again threaten Kandahar was defeated by the Afghan army with ease. However, an attempt to overrun a small US base in the eastern province of Nuristan in July came close to succeeding.

How allied airstrikes thwarted fierce attack by insurgent force

THE fighting started at around 7:30pm on Saturday, when an Apache helicopter opened fire on a group of 90 insurgents, who had massed close to the Bolan Bridge, a few miles west of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand.

British troops had been watching the insurgents for more than two hours as they raced to the bridge in Toyota pick-ups, armed with AK47 assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades.

Lieutenant Colonel Woody Page, a British forces spokesman, said: "We think that in the first airstrike 25 people were killed and a similar number were wounded."

The road bridge is where UK reconstruction staff have been trying to dredge a canal and improve a weir to help irrigate farms.

Predator drones then tracked the fighters as they split into four groups, to launch a multi-pronged attack on the city.

Some of the fighters stayed to the west. A second group formed a "block" to the east, while the rest launched attacks from the south and north-east.

Witnesses said the Taleban also launched a series of rocket attacks into the city, aimed at the governor's compound.

The Apaches launched a second wave of strikes at 11pm. At midnight the air filled with Kalashnikov fire, as the insurgents exchanged fire with Afghan forces.

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1

2dogs in D.C.,

13/10/2008 01:00:13
One company of Royal Marines would go a long way to making me feel secure anywhere.Thank you.
2

2dogs in D.C.,

13/10/2008 01:09:45
As an aside to above,our long time family friend just left.Two tours in Iraq,National Guard.He said he wants to go regular army,and change rates to Medic.He knows I was one, once, and wanted some stories and insights,(such as I may have.)Oh well,sorry for the babble,but he's really a good soul.
3

Dragonhead,

Dalian, China 13/10/2008 02:57:51
#2 2dogsinDC, surprise, surprise! A Medic no less?
4

,

13/10/2008 03:12:52
Comment Removed By Administrator
Reason:
5

Jim A,

13/10/2008 04:00:45
#4 Dragonhead, nothing wrong with Medics mate, the bravest guy I ever knew was a Medic. Also I think I'm correct in saying that the Royal Army Medical Corps has more Victoria Cross recipients than any other Unit in the British or Commonwealth armed forces
6

pehman,

sussex 13/10/2008 09:13:49

6 Jim A,

As a former mne and a medic, I think you'll find that the navy has the highest no. VC's followed by the Black Watch/ Gordon Highlanders.

RAMC have about 9 as do the Marines
7

,

13/10/2008 11:50:14
Comment Removed By Administrator
Reason:
8

Voldemort,

Edinburgh 13/10/2008 13:26:53
Well done to the Marines and our forces out there. They fight and win with broken tools. Despite a government who would rather make up jobs for their buddies in the civil service rather than properly fund our military.

The nation is proud of our troops and it will not be long before this nation will rid itself of this ridiculous, hypocritical 'Labour' party via the ballot box and hopefully we will have the sense to vote in somebody who gives a damn about our heroic forces and it willing to put there money where their mouth is.

There are tens of billions being criminally wasted by government - stop the waste and give it to our boys and girls in the forces !
9

Number 6,

Germany 13/10/2008 13:58:35
#7 As A former Medic, I think you will find we had 27 vc winners, including 2 double winners. There is no doubt the medics were, and still are the bravest of them all. We have to be.

I should sack whoever taught Regimental history in the
marines. Despite Brown's pathalogical hatred of the military, or "Dam Basta#rds" as he likes to call them,
they will continue to carry out outragous acts of bravery and courage. That's all arms, not just the medics.
10

Jim A,

13/10/2008 15:33:46
#7 pehman, nah your wrong mate, the RAMC has 26 donated VC's on display in their museum, I know this because I've seen them mate.
11

American,

13/10/2008 19:44:16
#2-2 dogs- Please give my sincere "Best wishes and Thanks" to your friend!!

12

suchaparcelofrogues,

Scotland 13/10/2008 21:36:39
So is anybody going to come on here tonight and tell us the war is is won and over again?
How about you Nomad how many times has this war been won and over now?
13

57Nomad,

california 13/10/2008 22:08:40
#15 such

such said:

"How about you Nomad how many times has this war been won and over now?"

Good question, such. The answer is zero. I have been saying the war in Iraq is over. You see, these are not the same country. Iran is between them. The Iraqis are Arabs, the Afghanis are not. They don't speak the same language. I know it's easy to confused with all of this 'geography' stuff. The war in Iraq is over and we won. The remnants of the foreign jihadis have fled Iraq and are joining the ranks of jihadis hiding in Pakistan.

However, they are running into the same problem that drove them out of Iraq. The tribesmen who have been sheltering them are turning against them. Without their bases in Pakistan the jihadis will be forced to either quit the fight or move full scale into Afghanistan where, among others, the British infantry will annihilate them. The war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is entering it's last stages.

Any questions?
14

57Nomad,

california 13/10/2008 22:16:01
#2 2dogs

2dogs said:

"He knows I was one, once,"

Dogs, I had no idea you were a medic. Army medic or Nave corpsman? The medics are as brave as anyone in the military and the only people that expose themselves to enemy fire with such utter disregard for their own safety are the chaplains.

Thank you for your service.
15

suchaparcelofrogues,

Scotland 13/10/2008 23:38:38
16

You have claimed both wars to be over and won sunshine dont start yer waffling now.

So the war in Iraq is over is it? so why are the troops still there fighting and dying instead of reinforcing the hard up troops in Afganistan?
16

suchaparcelofrogues,

Scotland 13/10/2008 23:39:28
16

You are so full of sh*t Nomad even you dont believe a word you post.
17

oder,

Scotland 14/10/2008 02:36:52
good job boys keep it up!
18

Lynne,

Palm Beach Gardens 14/10/2008 04:12:10
#18.. such..
One word...INSURGENTS
19

Lynne,

Palm Beach Gardens 14/10/2008 04:14:45
and maybe 2 words.. FOREIGN INSURGENTS

Iran is bribing MPs to sabotage the Security Pact, they are sending in foreign fighters, they are training assassins to kill politicals and the Americans, they supply IEDs and other armaments..
They are the biggest problem in the Middle East..
Because they are now interfering in Afghanistan in the same way.
20

57Nomad,

california 15/10/2008 01:38:43
#18 such

such said:

"You have claimed both wars to be over and won sunshine dont start yer waffling now."

You are mistaken. Find a single post that I have made on this forum where I stated the war in Afghanistan was won? You won't because nothing of that sort exists. Your comment is a lie.
21

57Nomad,

california 15/10/2008 02:08:11
#19 such

such mumbled:

"You are so full of sh*t Nomad even you dont believe a word you post."

This illuminating comment was directed at post #16. This is what I said:

"Without their bases in Pakistan the jihadis will be forced to either quit the fight or move full scale into Afghanistan where, among others, the British infantry will annihilate them. The war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is entering it's last stages."

Such, if you would bother to keep up with the news instead soaking yourself in bile, you would know that what I am saying is true.

And as for this farsighted comment:

"So the war in Iraq is over is it? so why are the troops still there fighting and dying instead of reinforcing the hard up troops in Afganistan?"

We have troops in Iraq to protect their fledgling democracy. If that means the war is still on consider this. The US stationed 300,000 troops in Germany for fifty years. Would you consider WWII to still be ongoing in, say, 1970?

There were six American combat deaths in Iraq last month. More troops were killed in accidents. Six troops a month is not a war. We will continue to suffer casualties but it hardly constitutes a war. By the way if we are fighting a war in Iraq, who is the opposing army?

You can't stand it can you? This victory stuff really gets under you skin doesn't it. Well, tough luck.

 

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