US Marines Return to Helmand Province

US Marines Return to Helmand ProvinceUS Marines Return to Helmand Province

US Marines have returned to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the first to be deployed in the war-torn country since NATO forces ended their combat role in 2014.

Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson attended a handover ceremony marking the return of the force in the southern province, where US forces faced fierce fighting until 2014, RTE reported.

Some 300 marines will form part of NATO’s train, assist and advise mission in the province, which for years was the centerpiece of the US and British military intervention in Afghanistan.

The ceremony marking the deployment, first announced in January, came one day after the resurgent Taliban announced the launch of their “spring offensive”, heralding a fresh fighting season.

The Taliban effectively control or contest 10 of the 14 districts in Helmand, the deadliest province for British and US troops over the last decade and blighted by a huge opium harvest that helps fund the insurgency.

The US has around 8,400 troops in the country with about 5,000 from NATO allies.

The marines were among the first US forces sent to Afghanistan after the 2001. Several thousand were deployed in Helmand where they engaged in bitter combat with the Taliban insurgency.

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