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Britain Takes Troops Off Alert

November 26, 2001

LONDON (AP) _ Britain took several thousand troops off 48-hour alert Monday, citing an improving situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon also confirmed that a ``very small number″ of British troops had been injured in operations with U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but he gave no details of the operations or the severity of the injuries. He said all had been brought back to Britain for treatment.

A Ministry of Defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, later said that fewer than 10 British troops were wounded.

Up to 6,000 troops were put on standby alert in mid-November to move to Afghanistan, but Britain’s main contribution on the ground was the deployment of a hundred Royal Marines at Bagram Airport north of Kabul.

``In the light of developments since, and given the more encouraging position on the ground, I have today decided to relax the notice to move for the bulk of these forces,″ Hoon told the House of Commons.

Two units remained on 48-hour alert, Hoon said. He did not say how many troops remained on 48-hour standby.

Hoon said Britain had ``augmented″ the force at Bagram over the weekend, but again gave no details.

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