British move to keep al Qaeda out of Afghanistan
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (CNN) -- British forces have launched an operation to stop al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan from infiltrating into southeastern Afghanistan and disrupting the nation's political reform process, coalition officials said Wednesday.
Called Operation Buzzard, the mission involves about 300 troops, mostly British Royal Marine commandos in an area south of Khost near the Pakistan border.
The forces also will gather intelligence, serve as a stabilization force for the region and provide a coalition presence.
The British, who began deploying two days ago, will conduct the operation in smaller units, such as vehicle, foot and helicopter patrols. They also will play a role in civil affairs, such as delivering food to the population.
Lt. Col. Ben Curry of the Royal Marines said, "The key is to reassure the people in the region that this is not a fight against Islam but a fight against terrorism."
The loya jirga -- the traditional Afghan grand council -- will meet June 10-15 to choose a transitional administration that will replace the U.N.-installed interim leadership.
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