Britain could be dragged back in to an “unwinnable war” in Afghanistan, the families of veterans have warned, as new evidence suggested the SAS are fighting there.
Images of what appeared to be four special forces soldiers together with Afghan troops fighting to save Sangin in Helmand Province emerged over the weekend.
The photograph suggested members of the SAS are involved in combat in the battle to prevent extremists capturing the strategically important town – rather than the advisory role claimed by the British government.
It followed reports last week that the specialist troops were fighting alongside the Afghans in Sangin for the first time in five years.
Diane Dernie, whose son, Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, suffered brain damage and lost both legs in a bomb blast there in 206, said: “It is incredibly saddening.
“I’m absolutely horrified by the thought we could get drawn back into this unwinnable war.
“We have already sacrificed so much in Sangin and we haven’t learned from our mistakes.
An image emerged over the weekend of what appeared to show four special forces soldiers wearing night vision goggles and heavily armed apparently after a fierce battle with extremists.
Although it is impossible to identify the men, experts said their equipment and weaponry resembled that used by the SAS.
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A senior Nato officer said UK troops were helping their Afghan counterparts at a tactical level but he insisted that it was the Afghan army who were doing the fighting.
US General Wilson Shoffner said: “In Helmand the British contribution is part of a larger Nato expeditionary advisory effort.
“But our mission is not combat, the Afghans are doing that and are responsible for the progress on the ground in recent days.
“Helmand continues to be a contested area and we know its going to be a tough fight. The Taliban’s main objective has been to take control of the province. It has failed to do so.”