UK & World News

  • 11 May 2014, 22:49

British Troops Close Final Afghanistan Outpost

British troops have closed their last remaining forward operating base (FOB) in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

At the peak of combat operations, Observation Post Sterga was one of more than 130 such bases.

It was designed to provide a safe location for soldiers or airmen some distance from the main operating bases, like Camp Bastion, making it easier to conduct land patrols.

The closure of the base means British armed forces personnel are now situated only in Camp Bastion, in locations in Kandahar, which has an airbase, and in the capital Kabul.

The move is part of the winding down of operations in Afghanistan, with a team of advisers to Afghan security forces expected to be Britain's sole presence in the country by the end of the year.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who was in Helmand Province to witness the closure of the base, said: "This is another important step towards ending combat operations in Afghanistan.

"It's also an opportunity to reflect on the mission and the hard work and sacrifice of British forces.

"Their efforts have helped build a credible Afghan National Security Force and supported the emergence of a democratic Afghan state."

A large number of the 453 British servicemen who have died in Afghanistan since 2001 were posted to an FOB at the time.

Sterga opened in August 2013 to allow UK personnel to observe a large and strategically important area of central Helmand.

More than 100 shipping containers' worth of equipment had to be removed from the base by air and road.

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