Afghanistan - 'Hundreds' Of UK Troops To Remain, Says Defence Chief

'Hundreds' Of UK Troops To Remain In Afghanistan, Says Defence Chief

Hundreds of British soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the UK pulls troops out of fighting roles, the Chief of the Defence Staff says.

The Government wants combat soldiers to leave the war-zone by 2015, but has said some troops will remain to support and train Afghan forces.

General Sir David Richards believed hundreds of British troops will be committed to the back-up roles, rather than 2,000 as has been suggested.

He said: "I don't recognise the 2,000 figure.

"We haven't yet decided what the residual figure will be but I think we are looking in the hundreds rather than the thousands."

Gen Richards claimed 80% of Afghan civilians wanted the country to remain free of the Taliban, though he insisted Britain's role was not to "extinguish the insurgency" but prevent Afghanistan being used to train terrorists who could launch attacks on Britain and help Afghan security forces take on insurgents.

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "We are on track to deliver that strategy."

A total of 385 British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of operations to oust the Taliban in 2001.


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