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PM backs Afghanistan strategy

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 11 July 2009

Gordon Brown has admitted that Britain's strategy in Afghanistan is working, despite troops suffering one of their bloodiest days since the conflict began.

British troops in Afghanistan (credit Reuters)

It was confirmed yesterday that eight soldiers had died and many more were wounded.

The Ministry of Defence named who of the soldiers who died as Rifleman Daniel Hume, 22, from 4th Battalion The Rifles and Private John Brackpool, 27, who was shot while on sentry duty at a compound just outside Laskkar Gar.

In a letter to the senior MPs on the Commons Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister said the Operation Panther's Claw offensive to clear the Taliban from central Helmand was succeeding.

"Despite the tragic losses, morale remains high, and I can report the assessment of commanders on the ground: that the current operations are succeeding in their objectives.

"They are having a marked impact on the Taliban in central Helmand, will improve security for the population in the run up to the elections, and will allow longer term work on governance and development to begin."

The deaths took the toll to fifteen so far this month and the overall total during operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 184, surpassing the 179 who've died in Iraq.

The latest casualties include five British soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles who died yesterday in two separate blasts on the same patrol near Sangin, and another British soldier from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment who died near Nad-e-Ali.

On Thursday two soldiers, Rifleman Daniel Hume from 4th Battalion, The Rifles and the other from Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment attached to 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, were killed in separate incidents.

Speaking to ITV news,  the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth said  people must not forget the sacrifice those killed had made. But, he warned, there would be more deaths to come.

"It is grim news and we've got to feel for all of the friends, all of the families of the people who have fallen. We must never forget the sacrifice they have made.

"But we equally have got to remember that we are in Afghanistan for a reason.

"This country is directly threatened by the insurgency that goes on in Afghanistan and we've got to be mindful that our troops have made a lot of progress over this period of time.

"It is hard fighting, dangerous, difficult terrain and sadly we've suffered a number of losses that were taking on the Taliban in a key heartland area.

"We are not in the place that we can afford to loose this country yet. It is going to take time and I can not say to people, and I would love to be able to, that we are going to be able to fix this, we are going to be able to win this in the next few weeks or even the next couple of months, it is not going to happen.

"We're going to suffer more losses."


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