Fighting for the global village: Archbishop of York praises soldiers

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THE Archbishop of York said today that the six soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan this week were doing “a very important job” and that troops should not be pulled out of the war early.

Dr John Sentamu said the men, who died in the most lethal single attack on British forces in Afghanistan since 2001, are fighting “for the global village”.

Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu

Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu

The Archbishop said: “People should go back and remember Britain did not go in there because it decided. This was a unanimous vote and mandate that al Qaida had to be disrupted, that the Taliban were actually treating their women very badly and that you could create towards peace and the only way was actually to go in and disrupt al Qaida.

“I want to believe myself we’ve done a lot of disruption in the fact that Osama Bin Laden is no longer posing the same threat now.

“It seems to me that the British soldiers, who in my book are the best, were doing it not just for the United Kingdom, people must remember this - they were doing it for the global village.

“It was a decision of the United Nations that took them in there.”

Asked if the troops should come home earlier than the proposed 2014 deadline for withdrawal, the Archbishop said: “I am not in the theatre of war, I am not in logistics, I haven’t got the knowledge to know what is what.

“I suspect the British Government have set that date because they think that legitimately they would have done their job and hand over the peace and the security.

“I’ve got to believe they didn’t just take it (the date) out of their head. I hope when they leave they leave in an orderly fashion so no more lives are lost.”

Speaking at Bishopthorpe Palace, Dr Sentamu also offered his prayers to the families of the soldiers killed this week - five of whom were from 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.

He said: “To the families I’d say we’ve been praying for that regiment every day here in the chapel and so our prayers will continue to be with you and we want to pray that when the bodies are brought back to this country for burial we will surround you with the kind of love which only Yorkshire knows.

“These young soldiers were the best - they were brave, they were tough, they knew what they were doing and they were prepared to offer the final sacrifice so I don’t want to take away anything from them with any kind of language which seems to suggest that they were not actually doing a very important, professional job.”