#1Feb 20th, 2007
British soldiers fire mortar during the attack
Taliban Strongholds Taken
Tuesday February 20, 2007
Pictures have emerged of British forces in Afghanistan claiming success in one of the largest offensives against the Taliban seen so far.
Commanders said Operation Glacier captured crucial enemy positions in Garmsir, in the dangerous southern province of Helmand.
More than 250 British troops, mostly from 3 Commando Brigade of the Royal Marines, were involved in the operation.
They were backed up by heavy artillery from British-trained Afghan gunners.
No British injuries or casualties were reported, but many Taliban fighters are said to have been killed.
A warren of underground tunnels and trenches was also destroyed.
Geoff Meade, Sky News defence correspondent, said the Marines had almost been outflanked by a Taliban attack, but were saved by reconnaissance specialists' accurate covering fire.
Chinook helicopters were used by the British.
"What the Marines are doing is... taking the fight to the Taliban," he said.
"They regard this area as the gateway to Helmand, as it's down towards the Pakistan border and would have been the route for a lot of arms and money to come in to the country."
Major Jules Wilson, who co-ordinated the operation, said: "Garmsir is the Taliban gateway to Helmand. In effect large groups of the enemy are now fixed south of Garmsir, ensuring important re-development within the rest of the province can continue."
Lieutenant Colonel Rory Bruce said the involvement of Afghan gunners represented "a significant step towards... Afghans being able to provide security for themselves".
Taliban forces are reportedly massing south of the border in preparation for a major offensive in the spring, which could be a make-or-break moment for Nato's mission in the country.
BRITISH SOLDIERS BATTLE THE TALIBAN
British troops have claimed success in one of the biggest offensives against the Taliban since the start of their mission in Afghanistan.
More than 250 troops were involved in the operation, mostly Marines.
They were given backing by British-trained Afghan artillery gunners.
Troops discovered a massive network of trenches and underground tunnels, which they destroyed.
In places the trenches were 40m long, a metre wide and more than 2m deep with a network of firing points and cover positions.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob MaGowan said: "The operation was a great success, we achieved our objective of destroying and clearing Taliban compounds whilst pushing enemy forces further south from the district centre."
The offensive, codenamed Operation Glacier Four, was part of UK troops' ongoing attempts to disrupt Taliban command chains, lines of communication and ability to re-supply and re-arm.