Brits say Panther Claw op in Afghanistan a success


A British-led military operation meant to clear the Taliban from parts of Afghanistan has succeeded, UK officials said Monday.

NATO and its Afghan allies launched Operation Panther's Claw to flush the Taliban from parts of southern Helmand Province before Afghan presidential elections next month.

Major fighting is mostly over, and the military will now focus on "holding" the areas that have been cleared of Taliban so they do not return, Lt. Gen. Simon Mayall said in a briefing. The operation's success will enable up to 80,000 people in Helmand to vote.

"Panther's Claw has been extremely successful," said Brigadier Tim Radford, the top British military commander for the operation. "There will be many Taliban who will not be fighting any more."

He said the Taliban suffered "significant casualties," but refused to say how many. Nine British troops were killed in action in the operation, he said, and there were three Afghan civilian casualties.

Radford estimated that there were 450 to 500 Taliban fighters in the area at the time of the operation, which he called "one of the biggest that has taken place."


The operation did expose some of the UK's weaknesses particularly with respect to equipment such as helicopters and mine resistance vehicles. However, they were able to overcome those weaknesses and exploit the weaknesses of the Taliban who have their own force to space problems.

The elections should be the easy part now. Insurgents need ambiguity as to time and place of attack for success. They have neither when elections are scheduled at specific locations and specific times.


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