HUNDREDS of lives have been saved following an operation carried out by soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
In Nad-e-Ali, central Helmand, the battalion – based in Dale Barracks, Chester – uncovered 260 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 38 detonators, 57 weapons varying from anti-tank mines to rocket propelled grenades to AK47 machine guns and grenades.
Eight kilograms of homemade explosives were found hidden underneath piles of dry poppy and fertiliser sacks.
The troops from A Company (A COY) and B Company (B COY) made the find as they were flushing out insurgents from their areas of operation.
As the troops from B Company got close to the enemy positions they came under a barrage of small arms fire. Taking cover where they could, the troops quickly set about identifying the enemy’s firing positions.
The troops moved rapidly to positions closer to the compound but the insurgents had fled.
Lance Corporal Zack O’Brien and Fusilier Stephen Handley conducted a search of the compounds and uncovered the weapons cache.
Lt Chris Annear of A Company said: “We were surprised we met so little resistance. Many of the compounds seemed unoccupied. We found one with a local national residing in it. When we asked him if there were any IEDs in the area he pointed to the three compounds surrounding his.
“We went in and couldn’t believe our eyes. It was the jackpot.”
IEDs have been responsible for about 80% of British deaths in Helmand province over the last two years.