By TOM NEWTON DUNN
July 31, 2007
AN SBS commando has been killed in a ferocious raid to take out a senior Taliban leader, The Sun can reveal.
The former Royal Marine was caught in a hail of bullets in the Afghan badlands.
He is the fourth soldier to die in five days in the countrys war-torn south making it the blackest week for British forces here in ten months.
Three other Special Boat Service men were also wounded in the intense but short battle in the remote province of Nimruz, which borders Iran.
In return, as many as 30 enemy fighters were cut down in the assault, backed by attack helicopters and jets. The target a significant Taliban commander is believed to be among the dead.
The fallen British hero was flown by helicopter to a field hospital but died of his wounds. He became the third man from the special forces outfit to be killed in Afghanistan in little more than a year.
A military source said: There was an enormous amount of lead flying around, as the Taliban fighters made it clear they were prepared to fight to the last to protect their commander.
"But it was all over pretty quickly once our full firepower was brought to bear. Unfortunately, four of our guys were caught in it, one fatally. But he died a hero.
Lt Col Claudia Foss, Nato spokeswoman in Kabul, said last night: We mourn the loss of this brave soldier. He gave his life for a better future for Afghanistan.
The SBS commandos next of kin have been informed and his identity will be released today. The SBS has been charged with carrying out special operations in Afghanistan while the SAS concentrates on Iraq.
The Navy sister service to the SAS has struck a series of fatal blows against the fanatical fighters recently after months of painstaking surveillance.
The greatest scalp was the targeting of the Talibans notorious military chief Mullah Dadullah in May. The latest operation was carried out away from the main 7,700-strong British force stationed to the west of Helmand Province.
Three British soldiers have died in as many days there with the launch of a major new offensive, Operation Hammer, to clear a formidable Taliban stronghold.
British Special Forces hero has been killed in a battle with Taliban fanatics in southern Afghanistan, in the worst month for British casualties on the ground in the past year.
The SBS (Special Boat Service) member - officially referred to as a Royal Marine due to the secrecy surrounding his unit - died as an elite team tried to arrest a 'high value target' during a snatch raid on Sunday, insiders said.
He was the fourth British serviceman to be killed in Afghanistan in just five days, the sixth since the start of July and the 68th since UK operations began in 2001.
Lieutenant Colonel Claudia Foss, of the ISAF, said: "ISAF mourns the loss of this brave soldier. He gave his life for a better future for Afghanistan."
Despite the commando's death around 30 Taliban fighters were killed in the SBS operation, according to reports.
The spike in casualties follows the launch of a large-scale offensive involving 1,000 British troops attacking insurgent positions in northern Helmand province to drive them away from the strategically vital town of Gereshk.
The aim is to clear an area known as the 'dark heart of the Taliban'. Defence sources said the SBS member was taking part in a separate operation outside Helmand province, where the bulk of the UK's 7,700-strong force is fighting Taliban insurgents.
The surge in casualties underlines the continuing threat posed by the Taliban, more than a year after UK forces were deployed into Helmand province to try to extend Afghan government control.
Although British commanders admit they have come close to disaster on occasions, UK units have won every battle against the insurgents and inflicted heavy casualties.
But the Taliban benefit from a flow of fresh fighters and supplies, mostly crossing the border from Pakistan in the south, and senior officers admit that killing Taliban supporters often serves only to turn ordinary Afghans against the British and their allies, making the 'hearts and minds' battle more difficult.
Marine Killed In Afghanistan Named
Updated: 13:51, Tuesday July 31, 2007
A commando hailed as a hero who died while fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan on Sunday has been named.
Lance Corporal Michael JonesLance Corporal Michael Jones, 26, was killed in a gun battle while taking part in a special mission to root out insurgents in Nimruz province in the south-west of the country.
Lance Corporal Jones was raised in Newbald, Yorkshire, and joined the Royal Marines aged 18 in February 1999.
The MoD said: "Through eight years of meritorious service, he served on operations in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan."
His Commanding Officer said: "Michael was a truly exceptional Junior Non-Commissioned Officer, the best at his level, who unflinchingly stood, time after time, shoulder to shoulder with his friends in the very worst of conditions.
"It will be impossible to replace Michael. He will be remembered as a genuine and loyal friend whose selfless bravery whilst assaulting a formidable Taliban position is an example to us all."
Lance Corporal Jones was a commando in the Special Boat Service. Three other SBS men were also wounded in Sunday's gun battle.
He was taking part in a special operation ordered by commanders to target a Taliban group who were planning to carry out attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
The death was unusual in that most fatalities involving British forces have been in Helmand province, further east of Nimruz.
Lance Corporal Jones is the fourth British serviceman to die in Afghanistan in the past week and the 68th since the start of operations in November 2001.