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Afghan, NATO Troops Attack ‘Taliban Town’

From the Taliban’s allies at Reuters:

Afghan National Army soldiers head out on patrol in the Taliban stronghold of Kolk in Zahri district, Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, November 15, 2007. (Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

Afghan, NATO troops fight for Taliban stronghold

By Abdul Qudoos

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Afghan, British and U.S. troops were fighting in a major operation on Saturday to capture the Taliban’s biggest stronghold in Afghanistan.

Musa Qala in the southern province of Helmand is the only sizeable Afghan town controlled by the Taliban. Capturing Musa Qala would give Afghan government and foreign troops a big boost as the harsh winter and perennial lull in fighting sets in.

U.S. troops were taken close to the town by helicopter on Friday to begin the attack as British troops moved in by land.

“We are now involved in an advance that is effectively kicking the door in to Musa Qala,” said Lieutenant Colonel Richard Eaton, British forces’ spokesman in Helmand.

Afghan army units followed up the assault on several hundred rebels in and around the town.

Twelve insurgents and two children had been killed in the assault, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told a news conference. Between 200 to 300 civilians had fled the area after they were informed in advance of the operation, he said.

U.S.-led coalition force said a “precision-guided munitions strike” had killed several Taliban insurgents including a militant commander in Musa Qala on Friday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Musa Qala residents had requested government forces eject the Taliban.

British troops pulled out of Musa Qala in October last year after coming under Taliban attack in a truce criticized by U.S. military commanders that handed control of the town to tribal elders. The Taliban then seized Musa Qala in February.

One soldier from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed and another wounded in an explosion in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, ISAF said, but it did not say where in the south the blast occurred.

A Taliban commander in Musa Qala said the insurgents had destroyed two NATO armored vehicles and killed many foreign troops, without suffering any casualties.

Thousands of Taliban fighters were fighting to defend the town, the commander, Mullah Qasam told Reuters by satellite telephone. The Taliban frequently exaggerate foreign casualties

This last is a rare though welcome admission from Reuters.

Albeit several years too late.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, December 8th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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