UK seeks longer stay in Afghanistan

British Royal Marine Commandos in the town of Barikju, Northern Helmand, Afghanistan.

The British Defense Minister Philip Hammond has said London will extend its military presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline.

This comes despite an agreement that calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the war-ravaged country by the end of next year.

Speaking to lawmakers, Hammond said the decision has been made on the advice of military commanders.

Hammond added some British troops will stay in Afghanistan into 2015 to ensure the orderly departure of equipment.

Hammond announced that the few hundred non-combat troops will be there for an additional nine months.

The minister also added that the British army will take an active part in training and advising the Afghan armed forces.

“The campaign is changing and the UKâ„¢s military role in Afghanistan is evolving from combat to one of training, advising and assisting the Afghans,” Hammond said.

Å“In light of this, and the changing nature of the operation, we have looked at how we can best deploy what will be declining numbers of troops and smaller amounts of equipment between now and then to deliver the best possible protection to our people while continuing to provide the Afghans with the support they need during this critical transition period,” the minister added.

British troops have been based in Afghanistanâ„¢s southern Helmand province since the US-led war in Afghanistan began. Some nine-thousand troops are currently stationed in the war-ravaged country.

According to the latest figures released by the website icasualties.org, 3308 foreign soldiers, including a total of 444 British troops, have been killed in Afghanistan since the US-led war began in October 2001.

The increasing number of military casualties in Afghanistan has caused widespread anger in the US and other NATO member states, undermining public support for the Afghan war.

The US-led war in Afghanistan removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan, despite the presence of about 100,000 US-led troops.

JR/PR

This article originally appeared on : Press TV