SCOTTISH soldiers joined forces with the Afghan National Police to claim back a huge part of the country from the Taleban.
In just a few hours they drove out insurgents, arrested key leaders of the terrorist group and seized a massive haul of drugs and weapons.
Operation ZMARAY SARAK 5 saw three security forces come together, including the 2 Scots the Royal Highland Fusiliers.
Three drugs runners were captured along with 250 kilogrammes of heroin in the first part of the process to clear the area around Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.
Setting off at dawn on Saturday, the soldiers were ambushed and targeted with IEDs.
But locals warned them where the improvised explosive devices were and they were able to capture the Taleban’s symbolic white flag and local leader.
Although the assault was planned and executed by the Afghan National Police, the 2 Scots provided much-needed support.
The two commanders – Colonel Kamalludin Sherzai from the Afghan Police and Lieutenant Colonel Dougie Graham from 2 Scots – worked closely together to make sure it was a success.
Colonel Graham said: “This operation provides a glimpse of the future: Afghan conceived, planned and led with cross-government support from the Afghans and minimal support from ISAF troops.
“An area that was previously under the control of the Taleban is now firmly in the sights of the local government.
“There is more to do, and more operations of this type will be necessary to ensure that the population is protected from the insurgency.
“There is also much scope for infrastructure development.
“But the level of assistance that the locals gave the Afghan security forces and us, helping us to locate the insurgents and their IEDs, gives us all significant hope.”
Colonel Sherzai thanked British troops for training the Afghan National Police to the standard they are at.
He said: “This operation was a first for this area, with unprecedented co-operation between us in the ANP, the Afghan Border Police, the National Directorate of Security and the Afghan National Army.
“The support we received from ISAF, in the shape of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, was valuable but limited.
“Our men have benefitted from the most excellent training from the truly honourable and professional soldiers of the British Army but now we are rapidly getting to the stage where we can stand on our own feet and take over the security responsibilities that are rightly ours.”
The 2 Scots are currently serving in Helmand as part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade alongside 5 Scots, 1 Royal Irish and the Parachute Regiment.
Usually based at Glencorse Barracks, they are due to return from the current tour next Spring.
REPORT: Cara Sulieman