LARGE numbers of soldiers based in the Tidworth area are working with their counterparts in Afghanistan to bring security to a previously troubled area of Helmand Province.

Operation Zmaray Saifullah 2 was planned and executed by Afghan warriors from 4th Kandak 3/215 Brigade with help from British soldiers of the Brigade Advisory Group which includes 26 Engineer Regiment from Perham Down, near Tidworth.

The Afghan engineers bridged the Nahr-e Saraj Canal allowing troops to clear the area of Mohajeri in central Helmand and to search compounds known to have been used as enemy firing points.

Shortly into the operation the patrol came into contact with the enemy.

The Afghan engineer team held their nerve and bridged the canal while under fire, allowing their troops to advance. The insurgents initially fought to regain the initiative from the Afghan Army but, on realising the strength of numbers and tenacity of the opposing force, they stopped firing and retreated.

Staff sergeant Chris Leid, aged 26, who is part of 26 Engineer Regiment, which is advising the Afghan engineers, said: “The building of the assault bridge allowed the Afghans to patrol further north.

“By using the bridge, we approached from an unexpected direction achieving an element of surprise which put the insurgents on the back foot.

“Evidence was then recovered during the compound searches which, under the supervision of the Royal Military Police, was despatched for forensic investigation. During the operation, five insurgents were detained by the Afghan security forces.