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Troops in Helmand enjoy first snow covering in 8 years

Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, experienced a covering of snow for the first time yesterday. Credit: Sergeant Dan Bardsley(Phot)/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

British troops in Afghanistan have seen the first proper snowfall in Camp Bastion in eight years, the Ministry of Defence said.

UK servicemen and women took the opportunity to build a snow soldier in the snow. Credit: Sergeant Dan Bardsley(Phot)/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

There have been small flurries before, but yesterday the snow lay on the ground for the first time.

Snow lies on the ground in Camp Bastion, where 3,000 UK forces are operating. Credit: Sergeant Dan Bardsley(Phot)/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

The snow came just 72 hours after temperatures were at 21C.

The unusual weather is believed to have been caused by an icy air mass pushing down from the north which met expected wet weather from the south west, creating the extreme conditions.

Detainee's lawyer questions transfer 'safeguards'

The Ministry of Defence has announced that Afghan detainees captured by British forces are to be handed over to authorities in Afghanistan.

Richard Stein from law firm Leigh Day, who is representing one of the prisoners being held said:

Whilst we have argued that our client should not be held without trial, equally he should not be transferred into a system in which he could be abused and tortured.

We are currently reviewing in detail the material produced yesterday by the Government to support their new-found confidence in the safeguards they have put in place.

Once we have reviewed the Government's justification for reintroducing transfers we will of course need to consider the position with our client.

Despite a firm indication from a judge that it is unacceptable, the MoD have refused us access by phone to our client. We will now be applying urgently to the court to force them to allow us to communicate with him without delay.


Hammond 'confident' detainees not at risk of harm

Announcing the restart of the detainee transfers from Camp Bastion, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We have been working to identify a safe transfer route to Afghan custody and I am pleased that this work has come to fruition.

"I very much hope we do not face any further legal impediments in the British courts which could prevent us from transferring these detainees and force us to hold them for even longer in Camp Bastion.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. Credit: Press Association

"The facility at Parwan is run by the Afghan National Army, trained and mentored by US forces, and has received positive reports from humanitarian organisations that monitor conditions.

"Our coalition allies also now transfer detainees to the same Afghan facility. I am confident the safeguards in place will ensure detainees will not be at risk of mistreatment.

"Detaining individuals on the battlefield is crucial to stopping those who intend to kill British servicemen and women.

"Our troops must be able to detain enemies on the battlefield and debrief them for intelligence purposes and will continue to do so before transferring them into the Afghan judicial system."

Detainee transfers to resume in Afghanistan in 21 days

The has MoD the UK would not transfer Afghan detainees at Camp Bastion to any facility where there was a risk of mistreatment but has been working with Afghan authorities to find a safe way to transfer detainees into the country's judicial system.

The detainees are expected to be handed over to Afghan authorities in 21 days. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Many are suspected of involvement in the preparation, facilitation, or laying of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), against UK forces, or were picked up at the scene of shootings of British troops, the MoD said, and have been held pending transfer to Afghan authorities for prosecution.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has now decided it is safe to transfer detainees to the Afghan National Detention Facility in Parwan, at the US military airfield in Bagram, which is operated and controlled by the Afghan National Army, with support from the US.

Interested parties have been notified of plans to resume transfers after 21 days, the MoD said.

It said British troops can detain suspected extremists captured on the battlefield under the authority of the UN Security mandate, and detainees are held where there is evidence linking them to criminal activity, before being transferred to Afghan authorities for further investigation.

UK to hand over Camp Bastion detainees

Afghan detainees captured by British forces are to be handed over to Afghan authorities, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The MoD said it plans to restart the transfer of detainees into the Afghan judicial system -suspended in November amid concerns detainees were being mistreated - after a decision by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond that it is now safe to do so.

File picture of a helicopter taking off from Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Credit: PA Wire

The decision follows suggestions last week by Mr Hammond that up to 90 Afghans being held at Camp Bastion could be handed over to Afghan authorities.

His comments came after lawyers acting on behalf of some of the suspected insurgents claimed their internment could have been unlawful.

British forces in Afghanistan are allowed to detain suspects for 96 hours, but can hold them for longer in "exceptional circumstances".

Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), acting on behalf of eight detainees who were held between eight and 14 months, said they had brought a High Court action on behalf of two of the men.

Multiple explosions heard in Camp Bastion attack

Multiple explosions could be heard minutes after an alarm sounded inside the sprawling desert base.

Forty minutes later the all-clear was announced and troops were ordered to search their immediate area for unexploded ordnance and casualties.

This latest attack comes as UK forces Helmand prepare to hand over to the next deploying brigade in what is known as the RIP (relief in place).

British troops training at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Last September two US Marines were killed and six Harrier jets destroyed after militants breached the perimeter fence and attacked through Camp Leatherneck - the US headquarters next to Camp Bastion.

The Taliban said Prince Harry who was in theatre as an Apache helicopter pilot at the time, was the intended target but Nato officials said the young royal was never in any danger.

Read: Prince Harry unharmed in attack.


Troops show Christmas spirit in Afghanistan

Troops celebrate Christmas at the main operating base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan Credit: oe Giddens/PA Wire
'Santa' hands out Christmas presents to British troops Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Warrant Officer Class 2, Craig Lawson, opens Christmas presents in his tent Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Troops tuck into their Christmas dinner Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
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