Nato operation
 
About 4,500 Nato and 1,000 Afghan forces are in and around Helmand province as part of an operation started this month to combat the Taliban.
 
Operation Achilles has seen heavy fighting between British forces stationed in Helmand province and the Taliban
 
However, neither Nato nor Afghan officials have reported any large-scale casualties among Taliban fighters during the operation.
 
An Afghan defence ministry spokesman said Afghan soldiers were ready to call in Nato aircraft to assist but that they did not need any air support, meaning that Thursday's operations were carried out only by Afghan government forces.
 
Violence in Afghanistan has risen over the last year, with Taliban fighters carrying out a record number of roadside and suicide attacks.
 
US and Nato officials have said they expect violence to increase further this spring and summer.