UK deaths in Afghanistan surpass toll in Iraq

A British Marine is shown in Arbroath, Scotland, last year on the eve of a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The British military marked a grim milestone Friday as the number of troops killed in Afghanistan surpassed the death toll in Iraq.

An especially bloody 10 days in Afghanistan’s troubled Helmand province claimed 15 British lives, putting the total number of dead in that conflict at 184, the Defense Ministry said. The British military has lost 179 soldiers in Iraq. Five soldiers were killed Friday in two explosions that rocked the same patrol near the town of Sangin in Helmand province, where British troops are based. The Defence Ministry earlier announced the deaths of three other soldiers in Helmand. British troops have joined with roughly 4,000 U.S. Marines and sailors, and several hundred Afghan security forces, in Operation Khanjar, a drive to secure Helmand before Afghanistan’s presidential elections in August. See a map of Helmand province »

Earlier in the week, Britain’s defense secretary the hard-fought mission against Taliban militants in Afghanistan. If Britain leaves Afghanistan now, the Taliban — which in 2001 ruled Afghanistan and harbored the al Qaeda terror network that attacked the United States –“will take control and al Qaeda will return,” Bob Ainsworth said on Wednesday, speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Watch a gallery of Britain mourning its fallen in Afghanistan »