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Helmand as the sun began to rise.

They then moved forward on foot through treacherous conditions, over land riddled with canals and irrigation ditches, to begin their raid on compounds in the area of Mazak, around 2km north of Forward Operating Base Inkerman in the Upper Sangin Valley.

Together with their ANA colleagues they searched the compounds and spoke to local people to gauge the level of enemy movement and influence in the area. The ANA proved vital, leading compound searches and explained to the local people the need for the operation.

Members of 8 Troop patrol through the intricate alleyways as they sweep through compounds during Operation Ghartse Palang.
Royal Marines of 8 Troop lay out and document specittc items found during a rummage on Operation Ghartse Palang. Photo: Colour Sergeant Baz Shaw

Sergeant David "Tommo" Thompson, 8 Troop, Y Company, 45 Commando Group RM, explained the difficulty presented when ensuring inhabited compounds are clear of enemy forces, saying, "Before entering any compounds, we are always aware of the threat of booby traps, IEDs and the enemy within. Unless we are confident the enemy are inside then the entry will always be what we call a 'soft knock' — minimal force and maximum care is adopted. Special care is taken to respect those housed within, initially making sure they do not pose any threat, whilst also taking into account the cultural and tribal sensitivities."

The Marines and ANA troops systematicallyclearedthecompounds using dogs and metal detectors to search for hidden weapons while ensuring minimal disturbance of the local people.

As the troops went deeper into their objective area they began to uncover caches of weapons which included rifles, handguns, magazines, ammunition, grenades, RPGs, shells and fuses.

Members of 8 Troop attempt to spot the enemy Bring point during Operation Ghartse Palang.
Royal Marines sniper Ryan Gorman (back left) uses his number two as a Bring platform during a contact with enemy forces whilst 8 Troop move between compounds during Operation Ghartse Palang. Photos: Colour Sergeant Baz Shaw

Major Richard Parvin, Company Commander Y Company, 45 Commando Group RM, said, "the Taliban were clearly caught off guard and were slow to react as the men of 4 Troop [attached from X Company] and 8 Troop began to uncover significant finds. As the company advanced deeper into enemy territory more and more weapons and explosives were uncovered. When the Taliban woke up and began to realise the extent of the operation they rapidly began to muster weapons and organise an ambush against us."

Marines of 8 Troop pushed to the northern flank following information the enemy were preparing an attack. Using a compound as cover, the Marines prepared a response. As the Taliban moved in and opened fire with AK assault rifles and RPGs,

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