NATO-led British forces have launched a massive air operation in the southern Helmand province, the Taliban stronghold

According to a statement of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) the offensive was launched Friday in Babaji, north of Lashkar Gah, the provincial centre.

The British troops are using 25 aircrafts in the operation – a largest one – including Chinook choppers, Apache and Black Hawk gunship choppers accompanied by Harrier jets and unmanned drones.

Operation ‘Panther’s Claw’ has been carrying out by Scottish troops in Helmand, aiming to destroy Taliban centres along a river in the Babaji area.

“This has been a major air assault operation with a large number of helicopters. The Black Watch met some resistance but we were able to establish a firm foothold in the area,” said Lieut Col Stephen Cartwright, Commanding Officer of The Black Watch.

According to the offensive forces, a number of the Taliban militants have been also killed in the operation but an exact figure has not provided to the media.

Taliban militants who also vowed to intensify their spring offensive have not made any comments on the fighting.

1.3 Drugs Seized

The British forces seized 1.3 tons of poppy seed and a number of IED and anti-personnel mines in the operation, the statement added.

Helmand province produces almost 90 per cent of the drugs of the world. Afghan drug trade is known a direct funding to the Taliban-led insurgency.

Taliban influence has been spreading in Afghanistan despite an additional 21,000 US troops are vowed to arrive in the country to fight against the Taliban.


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