Defiant message from Ipswich soldier

AFTER eight British troops died in 24 hours in Afghanistan, an Ipswich politician called back to the colours has posted a defiant message on the web.

AFTER eight British troops died in 24 hours in Afghanistan, an Ipswich politician called back to the colours has posted a defiant message on the web.

Alasdair Ross retired from the army seven years ago, but has returned to active service as a sergeant with 2nd Battalion The Rifles as an expert in the kind of warfare currently being seen in Helmand province.

His regiment lost five troops in two separate blasts on the same patrol near Sangin yesterday. Another solder from the 2nd Tank Regiment died near Nad-e-Ali in another part of southern Afghanistan.

Their deaths came the day after two other deaths in separate incidents.


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Mr Ross wrote on his Twitter site early on Saturday: “A hard few days here but strong leadership at all levels will see us through this difficult time- we stay 'Swift and bold'.”

Meanwhile the head of Britain's armed forces insisted that the Taliban was "losing" the fight in Afghanistan as he responded to the bloodiest 24 hours for ground troops since operations began.

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Eight troops have died in the period, bringing the total who have been killed in the country since 2001 to 184, surpassing the death toll of 179 in Iraq. Fifteen soldiers have now died in Afghanistan in the last 10 days.

Chief of Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup sent his condolences to the bereaved families, but said it was important to "remember why our people are fighting in Afghanistan and what they are achieving through their sacrifice and their courage''.

Many of the most recent fatalities came during Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther's Claw, a major British assault against the Taliban in Helmand ahead of next month's Afghan elections.

Some 3,000 troops are involved in the operation, which began on June 19 and has seen fierce fighting and significant casualties on both sides.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged it was a "very hard summer'' for the troops but insisted the Government's resolution to seeing through the mission was "undiminished''.

Speaking from the G8 Summit at L'Aquila in Italy, he said: "Our resolution to complete the work that we have started in Afghanistan and Pakistan is undiminished.

"We knew from the start that defeating the insurgency in Helmand would be a hard and dangerous job but it is vital.''

The worst single loss of life in Afghanistan came in September 2006 when 14 people died in a Nimrod plane crash.

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