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Freedom for Sulemanshazi as Insurgents Run Scared

January 30, 2011

The increasingly-weakened state of the Taleban insurgency in Helmand has been demonstrated once again, as British and Afghan troops cleared and secured a town with no resistance.

Evidently scared off by the Afghan and British forces presence and the force shown in previous strikes, insurgents who had been terrorising the community of Sulemanshazi and using it as a base for their activities fled without even putting up a fight.

2 SCOTS troops enter Sulemanshazi

Lance Corporal Hamilton of 2 SCOTS hands out Afghan flags to locals in Sulemanshazi

Now progress in the area is moving forward at pace, with soldiers from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), supporting their Afghan counterparts in ensuring long-term security in the town, just south of Babaji.

A new Afghan National Police checkpoint is up and running and a main road – known to the Brits as Route Ayrshire – has been cleared of improvised explosive devices and made more resistant to future ones being laid, rendering it safe for local people to use once again.

The decisive operation came earlier this month when Afghan and British soldiers were inserted by helicopter to investigate suspected insurgent locations in the area, close to the Helmand River. Searches were conducted but nothing was found and locals stated that earlier strikes, as well as a perception of growing strength of the Afghan National Police in the area, had scared the insurgents away.

The police checkpoint was established in the aftermath, with the ANP selecting a location on an arterial route to provide permanent security and a visible government presence for the area. The clearance of Route Ayrshire, for which soldiers from 2 SCOTS and the Afghan National Army worked in conjunction with the UK Counter-IED Task Force, began at the same time.

Now options for further development of Sulemanshazi are being considered, in conjunction with the local population, including further road improvement works, the building of a school, and job creation and training schemes to boost the economy.

Captain James Collinge, of 2 SCOTS, said:

“Our hard work has paid dividends with more than 200 local people moving back into the area and a real sense of community spirit emerging. The insurgents are rapidly running out of safe havens and we are causing major disruption to their evil activities.”

Second Lieutenant Matt Alder, of 2 SCOTS, added:

“The locals around the new checkpoint are exceptionally happy to have the ANP and us providing security in the area. We sit with them daily to discuss local issues and how we can best improve the future of the area. It has been unbelievably rewarding and I can’t wait to see the next phase of development here, which will bring even more happiness to the locals who have suffered so much in the past.”

One local man in Sulemanshazi said of the new police checkpoint:

“This is great for the local area. It shows that the local police care about our security and are working hard to improve it. It is also nice to see that, more and more, Afghans instead of foreign faces are providing the security for our region.”

A Scottish and Afghan soldier mix with locals in Sulemanshazi

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