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AROUND 200 Royal Marines are expected to be on the streets of Kabul by Saturday when the new interim Afghan government takes power, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

They will spearhead the international security force for three months but talks are still going on with Afghan leaders about their exact role.

The International Stabilisation Assistance Force, ISAF, will patrol key areas with Northern Alliance troops to reassure locals that civil unrest will not return.

The Marines from 40 Commando who are currently stationed on HMS Fearless in the Indian Ocean will move into the Afghan capital.

Another 90 will be flown into Bagram airbase by helicopter as reinforcements for 150 men already stationed there.

More than 1,000 troops from 16 Air Assault, lead by Two Para, will follow on in waves next week.

All will be told to keep a low profile and work side by side with local forces so as not to upset Kabul security chiefs who are unhappy at a large presence.

No tanks or heavily armoured vehicles will be used and soldiers will have to bed down in bombed out factories on the outskirts of the city.

The force will be boosted in January by 2,000 to 4,000 coalition soldiers.

A British military source said: "We are looking at light foreign legion-type troops coming in.

"We are talking about a modest employment at first, not the big bang of a huge intake of men."

-US MARINES raised a giant Stars and Stripes flag bearing the names of September 11 victims over Kandahar airport yesterday. The flag, which flew at Ground Zero, includes the names of 23 policemen killed in New York and the 17 sailors who died in a terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen last year.


TRIBUTE: Ground Zero flag flies at Kandahar
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 19, 2001
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