Brigadier Bob Bruce, commander of Task Force Helmand, said the capabilities of Afghan forces have "risen markedly" over the last eight to 12 months.
He told reporters: "The Afghans working with us now really are in control. The insurgency is still there. It's not gone but it doesn't dictate things."
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The slump will spark scrutiny, especially as statistics show a rise in racially or religiously motivated offences following the EU vote.
The 53-year-old was killed shortly after leaving her home in Mosta, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.
Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Cuixart of the Omnium Cultural group were jailed on Monday.