A major offensive by Afghan and Nato forces is underway in Afghanistan to try to wipe out the bloodiest insurgency the country has seen since the Taliban fell in 2001. It is being reported that at least 200 Taliban fighters have been killed since combat started on Saturday. Fourteen British soldiers and four Canadians have also died. Some 2,000 NATO and Afghan soldiers are involved in Operation Medusa which is taking place south of Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan, which has been a centre of Taliban resistance. Nato spokesman Major Scott Lundy said coalition forces had gained ground.
The 14 British soldiers were killed when their plane crashed on Saturday. Taliban claims that it shot down the aircraft have been rejected by coalition authorities who blame a technical problem. Twelve of them came from RAF Kinloss base in Scotland. Group Captain Chris Birks said: “The station is in mourning. It has been a terrible loss for us, a large number of personnel has been involved, but as ever, the professionalism is shining through and everybody is pulling together with 120 squad to support the families involved.”
The foreign office has dismissed claims that the crash showed that the aircraft was old and the operation under-funded. Britain has nearly 4,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan’s Helmand province as part of the NATO-led security force in the south.