British troops end combat operations in Afghanistan

The UK has handed control of Camp Bastion in Helmand province to Afghan security forces, marking the end of a military presence in the country that spanned more than a decade and cost 453 British soldiers their lives.

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Afghan war hero: We have to believe it was worth it

A former army medic, who was awarded the George Medal for risking his life to save others in Afghanistan, says he has to believe the war was "worth it".

More than 140,000 British servicemen and women have taken part in the Afghan War and 453 of them will never come home.

ITV News' Diplomatic Correspondent John Ray spoke to Paul Hartley about his experiences of war.

Military hero: Camp Bastion handover has been smooth

A bomb disposal expert awarded Britain's highest honour for gallantry said the handover of Camp Bastion has been "smooth".

Warrant Officer Kim Hughes said the withdrawal of British troops from the base was a "reality check," but that Afghanistan's security forces were in a "good place" to take over operations.

Cpl. WOII Kim Hughes GC attended an event today held by Prince Charles. Credit: John Phillips/PA Wire

Hughes, 35, was awarded the George Cross for his bravery in dismantling seven linked Taliban bombs by hand to save the lives of eight soldiers.

The Ministry of Defence described it as "the single most outstanding act of explosive ordnance disposal ever recorded in Afghanistan".

46% of Brits think troops should never have been sent

Troops wait for the last flight out of Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Nearly half of Brits think UK troops should not have been sent to Afghanistan in the first place, according to the latest ComRes/ITV News Index poll.

Of the 2,004 British adults surveyed:

  • 46% feel British troops should never have been sent to Afghanistan
  • 17% say it was right to send them but they should have returned sooner
  • 19% believe it was right but now is the right time for troops to return
  • 6% felt British troops should stay there for the foreseeable future
  • 12% say they do not know


Fallon: 'British troop sacrifice gives Afghanistan a chance'

The Taliban remain in parts of Afghanistan but the country is much better position as a result of the sacrifice made by British troops, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told ITV News.

He said: "The Taliban have not been completely eliminated. They are still there in some of the villages in North Helmand but we're leaving behind an Afghan trained security force, some 300,000 strong, army and police that are now taking on the Taliban."

He added: "There's no guarantee that Afghanistan will necessarily succeed as the kind of democracy we know in western Europe, but I think we've given it every possible chance of doing so, through the sacrifice of our troops."

PM pays tribute to UK 'sacrifice' in Afghanistan

David Cameron has said Britain will "never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice" as UK combat troops brought their campaign in Helmand province to an end.

UK forces handed Camp Bastion over to Afghan officials, concluding their bloodiest chapter in the 13-year conflict with a poignant flag-lowering ceremony.

The UK is preparing to withdraw combat personnel entirely from Afghanistan by the end of the year and is next expected to hand over a base in Kandahar, the country's second largest city.

Britain 'made mistakes' in Afghanistan, Fallon admits

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has admitted that "mistakes" were made during Britain's campaign in Afghanistan.

"I think the generals have been clear that mistakes were made. Mistakes were made militarily and mistakes were made by the politicians at the time," Mr Fallon told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

Flags are lowered at a handover ceremony for UK and US troops in Helmand province. Credit: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

"Clearly the numbers weren't there at the beginning, the equipment wasn't quite good enough at the beginning, and we have learnt an awful lot from the campaign."

Mr Fallon said there was "no guarantee" that Afghanistan would be "stable and safe" following the departure of western combat troops.

However, he said that British troops would not return to Afghanistan under any circumstances, even if there was a large-scale insurrection in Helmand or Kabul.

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