Troopers recall fierce fighting on the frontline

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SOLIDIERS from the 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh have described how “all hell broke loose” when they came under fierce enemy fire while fighting on the frontline in Afghanistan.

Members of battalion’s Fire Support Company, who are based in Chester, used their “courage and restraint” to clear insurgents from positions near Shahzad, in the notoriously dangerous district of south west Helmand, in Afghanistan.

The team who provide flanking protection for army bomb disposal teams, held insurgents back by shooting from a towered compound, as their colleagues moved through the area.

The team had been tasked to secure a compound, but on patrolling towards the location came under heavy fire from Taliban fighters.

Sniper Two, who has not been named for security purposes, said: “We left our patrol base just before first light towards the compound we wanted to go to and came under contact.

“We carried out our drills and observed, but couldn’t see anyone so pushed on and that’s when all hell broke loose.

“We were attacked by different weapons and people, so we moved under fire towards the compound.”

The commander in charge of the team, said: “Straight inside, after the complete adrenaline outside, we were expecting them (the insurgents) to be in the compound, but we were confronted by four children, an elderly man and his wife.

“The lads switched on straight away, cleared the compound of the locals and the interpreter dealt with them.

“From there, I co-ordinated the snipers up onto the roof. As soon as they started observing, we took fire from small arms, with shots hitting the compound wall to our front.”

The snipers used their finely tuned observation skills to clearly identify the enemy from the locals.

Using a long range rifle, which has state-of-the-art telescopic day and night all-weather sights, the soldiers were able to win the fire fight without injuring civilians.

A Sniper One from Fire Support Company, 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh, said:

“Once we got up into the tower, we identified the enemy with a weapon, and distinguished between them and civilians, who they were using as human shields at the time.

“We had sniper rifles, the .338, which is a precision weapon, so we were able to take clean shots without injuring any civilians.”

Sniper Two added: “When I was observing, first of all I saw women and children. I was trying to find the firing points, because they had been using ‘murder holes’, holes in walls which they’ve knocked out so they can stick their rifle through. I was checking the walls for that.

“At the end of the wall, I saw an insurgent take a knee, raise his weapon up to his shoulder and fire a burst at our compound, so I took my aim, took my time with the shot and engaged him.”

The action by the Chester-based team, built on the progress of Operation Moshtarak, carried out by International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) earlier this year, which aimed to drive the Taliban from their strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

See full story in the Leader

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