LONDON, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Britain has ended its
first-stage major operation, dubbed Panther's Claw, in Afghanistan, the Ministry
of Defense said Monday.
But the British commanders remained cautiously
optimistic about the future, saying it is a long way to go to improve security
ahead of the presidential elections in Afghanistan next month.
The five-week mission involved 3,000 soldiers since
its launch in June and the troops will remain to secure the area won from the
Taliban for three to six months.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the mission
in the troubled southern Helmand province "has shown that it can bring success."
"What we've done is push back the Taliban -- and what
we've done also is to start to break that chain of terror that links the
mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the streets of Britain," Brown said.
A total of 20 British soldiers have been killed in
Afghanistan this month. As of now, 189 British soldiers have died, surpassing
the number killed in Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth said Friday
that Britain will send 125 service personnel to Afghanistan to help sustain the
progress of current operations.
"Reinforcements are necessary to ensure we can
maintain our operational tempo and consolidate the real progress we have made,"