'UK to deploy up to 4,000 troops in Afghanistan'

Updated on Jan 28, 2006 07:01 PM IST

Britain plans to order up to 4,000 of its toughest troops to start deploying in Afghanistan from April or May.

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None | ByAgence France-Presse, London

Britain plans to order up to 4,000 of its toughest troops to start deploying in Afghanistan from April or May, the

Sun

tabloid reported on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence was not immediately available to comment on the story.

Defence Secretary John Reid on Thursday will inform soldiers from the 16 Air Assault Brigade and the Parachute Regiment of their mission to Helmand province, The Sun said, quoting an unnamed "senior government figure".

"There is no doubt this will be a dangerous exercise. But it is a vital mission for Britain to lead," the source told the tabloid.

"Our forces will be robustly armed in case they come into contact with enemy forces."

The British deployment is to spearhead a NATO "enabling force" to help the Afghan government and take over from US units in the area, The Sun said.

It noted, however, that London's decision to send its tough paratroopers underlines the potential dangers involved.

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