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British troops end combat operations in Afghanistan

The UK has handed over control of Camp Bastion in Helmand province to Afghan security forces. The move marks the end of the British military presence in the country.

Troops from across the Meridian region were among those serving in Afghanistan in a operation that spanned over a decade. In that time 453 troops lost their lives.

The last Union flag of Great Britain flying above the skies of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, is lowered. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The last Union flag of Great Britain flying in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, is lowered by Captain Matthew Clark, left, and Warrant Officer 1 John Lilley. The Union flag will be returned to the UK by Brigadier Rob Thomson, after a ceremony at Camp Bastion signifying the end of combat operations in Helmand by British and ISAF forces.

Thief steals dead soldier's pictures from heartbroken mother

Jacqui Janes with a picture of her son, Jamie Credit: Meridian

A woman who was robbed of her phone with precious memories of her son, who was killed in Afghanistan, is appealing for information.

Jacqui Janes, 54 from Brighton, was out walking her dog on a popular dog walking track of the South Downs just north of the A27 footbridge in Hangleton and next to the West Hove golf course around 1.30pm on Monday (September 15).

When a man approached her and she was pushed to the ground and her mobile phone was prized from her hands. The Apple Iphone 5 contained pictures and videos of her 20-year-old son.

Jacqui said: "They can have the phone and that doesn't matter at all. I just want the sim card back. The background of the phone is a picture of Jamie hugging me, and that's all I've got of my beautiful son. Please find it in your heart to hand the phone or sim card in."

Detective Sergeant Simon Dunn said: "The victim's son was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and the mobile phone memory contained precious memories of her son which she is desperate to have returned.

"This robbery happened is broad daylight and there were people out walking their dogs. The suspect ran off towards Hangleton shops. He is described as a white man with stubble, aged in his late 20s and stocky build, around 5' 8". He was wearing a distinctive grey hooded coat with stripes down the arms, dark trousers and dark footwear, and smelt strongly of alcohol."

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Inquest into death of soldier who died in Afghanistan

An inquest is due to open today into the death of a soldier from Maidstone who was killed when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

Captain Ben Babington-Browne, who was 27-years-old, was a member of 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers.

He was carrying out a routine engineering survey when the crash happened.

27-year-old Ben Babington-Browne died when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Soldiers celebrate their final homecoming with parade

Medals presented by Major General Tim Radford Credit: British Army

Around 80 soldiers have marked their final homecoming from Afghanistan by holding a medals parade in front of family and friends a their regimental home at Robert Barracks, Larkhill in Wiltshire.

The soldiers at the barracks in Wiltshire today Credit: British Army

Soldiers from the 57 Battery of the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery were often deployed at short notice and concurrently in Afghanistan and Iraq, until they were withdrawn in 2008.

Last brigade posted to Afghanistan train in Wiltshire

Soldiers from the final brigade to head to Afghanistan have been training in Wiltshire. 4000 troops are heading to Camp Bastion for the last time, bringing to an end Britain's 13 year involvement in the conflict. More than 400 sevicemen and women have died since operations began.

ITV Meridian spoke to Armed Forces Minister, Mark Francois MP.

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  1. Richard Slee

Tributes for Hampshire servicemen killed in Afghanistan

Family and friends have been paying tribute, today, to the five servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. They were, they said, dedicated, professional, full of life. Four of the men - fathers and husbands - were based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.

The Ministry of Defence says the crash was a "tragic accident" - the worst involving a British helicopter in Afghanistan since the campaign began in 2001.

The Lynx helicopter came down during routine training in southern Afghanistan - in the Takhta Pul district close to Kandahar Airfield.

Defence experts have denied claims by the Taliban that they shot it down - and believe the crash was caused by a technical problem. Richard Slee reports.

Lost Afghan bird swoops in on soldiers

Come here birdy, birdy...... Credit: MOD

Military staff were surprised when an Afghan fighting bird swooped by their Helmand headquarters.

As officers continued with the ongoing mammoth task of returning kit from Camp Bastion, a lost partridge found itself inside the large building in Britain’s desert base.

Feathered friend has a look around the base Credit: MOD

The distinctively-coloured birds, known as Chukar partridges in central Asia, have existed for centuries and were bred in the past to fight in several regions of Afghanistan.

But on this occasion one merely perched on the rafters at Joint Force Support (Afghanistan), where staff are overseeing the return of thousands of items of kit and people to the UK.

Headquarters Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer 2 Stuart Evans, cajoled the flyer to a safe area outside the main building, where it enjoyed a bite to eat before flying off.

WO Evans, from Wickham, Hampshire, said: “This is a busy headquarters working on a major task, so we’re usually focused on the detail of that.

“It simply strolled in, but attempts to usher it outside made it head for the roof space. It was certainly a welcome distraction and talking point as it moved around the HQ.”

At sea for Christmas: Sailors feeling festive on board HMS Westminster

Sailors enjoying their Christmas dinner on board HMS Westminster Credit: Royal Navy

Royal Navy sailors on board the Portsmouth based warship HMS Westminster have been enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner at sea.

Tucking in: 80kg of turkey was taken on board Credit: Royal Navy

The Ship, which will be away over the Christmas period, had been hoarding away in her freezers 80kg of Turkey along with 20kg of Beef and Gammon, 120kg of potatoes, 30kg broccoli, 30kg carrots, 150 yorkshire puddings, 300 pigs in blankets, 20kg brussel sprouts and to top it off, 15 Christmas cakes.

The ship has been on counter drugs and piracy operations Credit: Royal Navy

Flooding continues: River Medway in Maidstone

High water. The River Medway in Maidstone Credit: ITV Meridian

The towpath disappeared along the River Medway in Maidstone.

54 Flood Warnings remain in place across the south east and 100 Flood Alerts are in place where residents are told that flooding is possible.

For more details from the Environment Agency click here.

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