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On the frontline with Panther's Claw

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 18 August 2009

Guardian photographer Sean Smith offers a unique insight into the British forces' Panther's Claw operation in southern Afghanistan.

The military offensive aimed to drive out the Taliban from their Helmand strongholds and prepare the way for this week's elections.

Smith has just returned from Afghanistan, witnessing the frontline fighting at first hand.

The combat phase of Panther's Claw began on 19 June when the Black Watch launched an air assault on Taliban positions.

The operation’s objective was to secure a small part of Helmand province – the Taliban heartland – before the Afghan elections.

It was the biggest military operation since the invasion of Iraq. Taliban supply routes were disrupted and vital crossing points captured, and on 27 July the first phase of the operation was declared a success by Gordon Brown.

Smith spent three weeks south of Camp Bastion in the Babaji district with the Black Watch 3rd Battalion, and two weeks Nawa district with the Mercian Regiment. The accompanying film is his front line account of Panther's Claw, narrated by Channel 4 News's Keme Nzerem.

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