Afghan minister: Troops rushed to area under Taliban attack

Afghan security forces patrol the Nad Ali district of Helmadn province, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. When Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani took office, he ushered in a period of hope for the country’s traumatized and war-weary people that decades of violence would soon end. But just one year later, many Afghans now believe the Taliban are winning the war as British troops deploy to the southern Helmand to help beleaguered Afghan troops regain control of a strategically important district in the poppy-producing province. (AP Photos/Abdul Khaliq)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s acting defense minister says reinforcements have been rushed to a besieged southern district threatened for days with takeover by Taliban fighters.

Masoom Stanekzai said on Wednesday fighting in the Sangin district of Helmand is continuing as army and police arrive to help security forces who have been pinned down for days.

He says Afghanistan’s embattled security forces need international military help, especially air support, which would help reduce casualties.

Sangin is an important poppy-growing district in Helmand, which borders Pakistan and sits on transport routes for drugs, arms and other lucrative contraband.

Britain has sent a small contingent of soldiers to Helmand as advisers under the NATO mandate. The return of British troops is poignant, as they suffered more than 100 fatalities in Sangin during their 13-year combat mission.

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