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25 April 2024

Taliban bastion almost under control: officials

Nine Afghan civilians and two Nato soldiers have been killed since the operation started on Saturday. (AFP)


The Afghan military said yesterday that US-led troops had taken almost full control of a key Taliban bastion on the third day of a major ground and air assault in war-torn Afghanistan.

The offensive is the first major test of US President Barack Obama's strategy to reverse the Taliban insurgency and end the eight-year war and one of the biggest military operation since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban. The Obama government is working hard on the supposedly final offensive to bring down the Taliban, before pulling out its troops from Afghanistan.

US Marines were leading 15,000 US, Nato and Afghan troops in the ground and air operation designed to clear the Taliban from the Marjah region of the southern province of Helmand and make way for Western-backed authorities.

So far, at least nine Afghan civilians and two Nato soldiers have been killed in Operation Mushtarak ("Together" in Dari). Five British and American soldiers have died elsewhere in southern Afghanistan since the assault began Saturday. Speaking to AFP behind the front line in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, a senior Afghan general said troops had captured nearly all the targeted territory in the Marjah and Nad Ali areas of Helmand.