Troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade hold Afghan service

Soldiers from the Army's largest brigade have attended a service to give thanks for their return from Afghanistan and to remember the fallen.

Troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade congregated at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Relatives of the 22 soldiers killed during the deployment were among those at the service, as well as Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey.

The troops were deployed to Afghanistan between October 2010 and April 2011.

With some 8,000 soldiers, the 16 Air Assault Brigade is the Army's largest brigade.

It brings together airborne infantry, artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians.

Afghan soldiers and policemen who were killed were also remembered at the service, which included a sermon delivered by the Right Rev Lord Eames OM, formerly Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

Lt Col Frazer Ross, of 23 Engineer Regiment, said services of this kind were "extremely important" for troops and their families, as well as relatives of those who had been killed.

"It gives us a chance to reflect on the tour, gives us a chance to reflect on our successes, gives us a chance to draw a line under the tour but, most importantly, it allows us to give thanks for those who we have brought home and allows us to remember those we didn't bring home," he said.

On Tuesday, more than 600 soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade marched through Colchester, in Essex, to mark their return from Afghanistan.

The Freedom of the Borough of Colchester was exercised by the brigade, which is based at the town's Merville Barracks.

The brigade was granted the Freedom of Colchester in 2008.

The government's aim is for UK combat troops to leave Afghanistan by 2015.

Currently about 9,500 are stationed in the country, where allied operations began in 2001.

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