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18.02.2009 - Operation DIESEL

In a complex operation that took place in February 2009, British forces swooped on a number of significant Taliban drugs factories in the Upper Sangin Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Operation Diesel involved Special Forces along with troops from 3 Commando Brigade and the Army.
Sangin, Afghanistan (google earth kmz file)

British forces involved in the operations included:

OP Diesel was comprised of several key actions:

  • Proceeding the main operation, British forces, including 1 PWRR and Viking APCs from the Armoured Support Group, carried out a number of deception operations in and around Op Diesel's multiple targets in order to distract the Taliban and draw them away from the area.
  • On the night of Feb 6th, under the cover of darkness, a number of Brigade Reconnaissance Force MWMIK Jackals moved into position on high ground looking over the targets, a series of compounds and farms situated in the Helmand valley. From their high vantage point, the BRF was in a position to provided covering fire for 2 helicopter landing zones in the valley below.
  • 8 km west of the objectives, APCs from 1PWRR secured a further helicopter landing zone and also position themselves as a blocking force against Taliban counter attack
  • Vikings from the Armoured Support Group set up a screen to the south.
  • Covered by the ground elements, up to 500 Royal Marines Commandos were inserted into the 3 landing zones by waves of helicopters.
    view graphic of helicopter insertions during Operation Diesel
  • Elements from 45 and 42 Commando then moved out from their insertion points to search and secure the various compounds and farm buildings, whilst other elements moved into position to provided cover for their fellow Commandos.
  • The precise role of the SBS during Op Diesel has not been disclosed to the public.

Due to the successful deception operations that proceeded the operation, the Commandos only met sporadic pockets of resistance. 4 Taliban drug factories were seized during Op Diesel with a total of £50 million worth of narcotics. In addition to the drugs haul, it is believed that the Taliban's ability to produce IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) was also severely hampered as a result of the raids. Up to 20 Taliban were believed killed during Op Diesel, with no British casualties suffered.


GALLERY: Helicopter-borne troops strike at Taliban's drug industry
(Ministry Of Defence)


Helicopter-borne troops strike at Taliban's drug industry
(MOD Defence News)

Troops raid Afghan heroin stash
(BBC News)

British forces in Afghanistan seize £50m of heroin and kill 20 Taliban
(The Telegraph)

Commandos target drugs labs where Taleban and mafias reap $100m profits
(The Times)

British troops seize £50m of Taliban narcotics
(The Guardian)

£50m Drugs Raid 'Will Starve Taliban Of Cash'
(Sky News)

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