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- Dubai 05:23 06:36 12:34 15:53 18:25 19:39
The commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan said a major offensive will send a "strong signal" and clear insurgents from their southern stronghold, as residents fled ahead of the assault.
A huge force of US Marines leading Nato and Afghan soldiers is expected to launch the offensive – said by commanders to be the largest assault against Taliban-led militants since the war began – in Helmand province within days.
Operation Mushtarak, or Together, will "send a strong signal that the Afghan government is expanding its security control," said US General Stanley McChrystal, who leads 113,000 US and Nato forces. The operation is to be centred on the Marjah plain in the central Helmand River valley.
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