About 300 Marines from the United States are en route to Afghanistan's southern Helmand province to help reverse Taliban gains in the strategic province, it was reported Tuesday.
The deployment marks the Marines’ largest to Afghanistan since they left in 2014 as the U.S. declared end of its combat mission here.
Since the withdrawal of most of international troops from Afghanistan, Taliban have stepped up their insurgency and are in control of much of strategic Helmand province, where tens of thousands of Marines fought fierce battles against the Taliban for years.
Marine Corps Times, an independent newspaper focusing on issues involving the service, said that the group of U.S. Marines will be in Helmand by the end of April.
During their nine months in the province, they will train local army and police indirect fire and small unit tactics and other skills, the paper said citing U.S. officials.
“Make no mistake, though we are no longer in a combat role in Afghanistan, it is still a combat environment,” Colonel Matthew Reid, deputy commander of the Marines task force, said in January. “As Marines, we train and deploy with a combat mindset.”
Taliban are in in control of several districts in Helmand province and have threatened to capture the provincial capital city, Lashksargah.
U.S. army general, David Petraeus, who led international troops in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, said that the Marines “can absolutely make a difference in Helmand province.”
The advise-and-assist mission can give Afghan army and police the support they need to “reverse the momentum of the Taliban in that important province that sits astride the critical ‘Ring Road’ that connects the southern and western parts of the country to Kabul,” the general said.