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Fighting Rages In District Of Afghan Province Of Helmand

An Afghan Local Police (ALP) member keeps watch during an ongoing battle with Taliban militants in the Marjah district of Helmand province on December 23.

Heavy fighting is reported to be continuing between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in the district of Sangin in the southern province of Helmand, which the militants overran earlier this week.

Afghan acting Defense Minister said on December 23 that reinforcements had been rushed to Sangin. Speaking to reporters in Kabul, he also appealed for international military help, especially air support.

Britain has sent a small contingent of soldiers to Helmand to help Afghan forces as advisers under the NATO mandate.

Sangin is an important poppy-growing district in Helmand, which borders Pakistan and sits on transport routes for drugs, arms and other lucrative contraband.

The crisis in Helmand has put more pressure on the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

On December 20, the province's deputy governor issued a highly unusual public plea via Facebook, warning that Helmand would fall unless immediate action were taken and urging Ghani to come to the province to see for himself.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters