HAMPSHIRE soldiers were among troops who seized more than £50m worth of drugs during an operation in Afghanistan.

1st Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, known as the Tigers, were among 700 troops that took part in Operation Diesel which captured four drugs factories in Helmand Province and disrupted Taliban facilities making improvised bombs.

Troops carried out raids in the notorious Sangin Valley which the Ministry of Defence described as the ''Taliban heartland''.

The Hampshire-based soldiers provided a decoy, feigning a move into an area to the north of the real targets.

While distracted the true attacks took place forcing the Taliban to abandon the factories, weapons and drugs equipment.

Along with £50m worth of heroin and drug-making equipment troops also seized weapons and ammunition, including Ak47 assault rifles, PKM machine guns, numerous ammunition magazines and 3 RPG rocket launchers complete with additional warheads.

A motorbike modified for use in a suicide attack was also seized.

Defence Secretary John Hutton praised the bravery of British troops and said the drug seizures would starve the Taliban of funding and prevent drugs reaching UK streets.

Commander Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Gordon Messenger of the Royal Marines, described Operation Diesel as ''a clinical precision strike'' which had given a significant boost to the Afghan authorities in their fight against the drugs trade.

Operation Diesel which took place between February 6 and 11 involved Afghan Security Forces and British troops from 45 Commando Royal Marines, 42 Commando Group Royal Marines, 3 Commando Brigade's Reconnaissance Force, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment and the Armoured Support Group.