British troops are to hand over control of one of the most violent districts of Afghanistan to American colleagues, according to media reports.
The news is expected to be confirmed later today.
It concerns Sangin, a valley in Helmand province that has proved particularly deadly. Around a third of more than 300 British soldiers killed in the war have lost their lives there.
While UK forces will remain in Helmand, a decision to leave Sangin could be seen as a victory for the Taliban. Not so, say military strategists.
“It is certainly not a retreat,” said Colonel Richard Kemp, a former British commander in Afghanistan. “What it represents is a tactical redeployment of forces, which is what invariably happens in any campaign as force balances change, as a campaign progresses. And in this case as a huge influx of US forces has occurred.”
The funeral has taken place of the 300th UK serviceman killed in the conflict, Royal Marine Richard Hollington. Foreign Minister William Hague says British troops in Afghanistan will have withdrawn from any combat role within five years.