A military operation to oust Taliban insurgents from a stronghold in southern Afghanistan is progressing “very well”, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Hundreds of British troops are taking part in Operation Tor Shezada.

British forces, working alongside the Afghan army, said they made progress and were holding two compounds near Sayedebad in central Helmand province.

The operation, which translates as “black prince”, started with soldiers being dropped from Chinook helicopters under cover of darkness on Friday.

The troops, spearheaded by 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, then moved in to clear compounds and establish patrol bases in the area.

They have seized large quantities of IEDs and bomb making equipment as they moved through the area. No casualties have been reported so far and there has been only limited contact with the Taliban.

An MoD spokesman said: “Operation Tor Shezada is progressing very well. Quantities of IEDs have been recovered and shuras (meetings) have been held with village chiefs in an attempt to offer reassurance.”

The operation is intended to push insurgents further from the population centres cleared as part of Operation Moshtarak earlier this year.

UK troops and Afghan forces from 3rd Brigade, 215 Corps, are clearing insurgents from Sayedebad to the south of Nad-e Ali, in parallel to similar operations by the United States Marine Corps in northern Marjah.

Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: “Operation Tor Shezada will continue the momentum generated by Operation Moshtarak earlier this year. Its aims are very much supported by local Afghans living in and around the area of Sayedebad. They are keen that insurgents be removed so that they can live, work and travel there safely.”