18 April, 2007

Chronicling the Taliban spring offensive 3.

Part Three of Afgha.com's chronicle of the Taliban's spring offensive, covering the period between 28 March and 18 April, is now available. Links to Parts One and Two can be found here.

From the Taliban, it is the largely, by now, familiar pattern of isolated, nonetheless lethal, small scale attacks. The ISAF seems to have continued its precision attacks on Taliban leadership and to have launched its own spring offensive, with a major assaults around Sangin (see, 6-7 and 15-16 April) and Garmsir (13-14 April). It looks like the pattern may be set for the immediate future, possibly for at least as long as the Taliban forces in western Pakistan are tied up consolidating their position there by hammering al-Qaeda's Uzbeks.

Over the coming months, the key places in Helmand to watch will probably continue to be: Sangin, where the prize is control of the economically vital Kajaki hydro-electric Dam; Garmsir, which is the "Taliban gateway to Helmand" from the Taliban's strongholds to the east in Pakistan; and Musa Qala, the importance of which, after last year's controversial British-Taliban truce, is probably as much symbolic as strategic.

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