Afghanistan war: Services mark 20th anniversary since UK joined conflict

At the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, a wreath laying service was held at the Bastion Memorial

Services have been held to mark the 20th anniversary of the start of UK military operations in Afghanistan and to remember the 457 service personnel who died in the conflict.

A wreath laying service was held at 7.30am at the Camp Bastion Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, replicating the same design as the former Bastion Memorial Wall in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

At the same time, another service was held at the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial in London to honour the UK troops and civilians who served in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ceremonies were intended by the Ministry of Defence to pay tribute to "the courage and commitment of its people" during the conflict which began on October 7, 2001.

UK troops left Afghanistan at the end of August, with veterans and their families having to reckon with the legacy of the war following the rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban.

A wreath laying service will be held at the Bastion Memorial. Credit: Sky

The UK pulled out its remaining troops and diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan on August 28, while US forces finally withdrew from Afghanistan three days later, a day ahead of the deadline set by President Joe Biden.

As ITV News reported, Combat Stress revealed in August how the government's handling of the crisis triggered a surge in calls from veterans seeking support for their mental health.

The country's deteriorating security situation left many former service personnel feeling their efforts were in vain.

The end of the Western military presence also concluded the airborne evacuation effort from Kabul, leaving Afghans wanting to escape the Taliban facing an uncertain future.