17 April, 2007

Operation Achilles in Helmand.

Operation Achilles, the ISAF's major anti-Taliban offensive in Helmand, Afghanistan has been continuing this week with series of joint Afghan-British strikes targeted against terrorist leaders in the north of the province. According to an ISAF press statement:
... in joint operations with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), ISAF launched a series of attacks and precision strikes against Taliban extremist in the Northern Helmand this week resulting in the elimination of several key extremist leaders from the ongoing insurgency.

“Striking at the heart of the problem and removing these key leaders has paid off,” stated Major General Ton van Loon, Commander of Regional Command South. “We fully realize the influence these Taliban extremist leaders have on the population of Southern Afghanistan who have clearly told us they felt like they where hostages in their own communities. Removing these extremist leaders from the equation allows freedom of choice to young men who are otherwise intimidated and coerced to join the Taliban extremists in the South,” he added.
Afgha.com summarises the latest state of play in the province with useful links to contextual material. Basically, a mixed picture emerges with ISAF success in retaking control of Sanguin being offset by continuing Taliban dominance of the Musa Qala, Now (New) Zad and Bagrhan districts. Afgha.com concludes that,
The recent offensive launched by NATO against the Taliban militants holed up in Helmand [Operation Achilles] is likely the beginning of a summer long campaign aimed at securing the Kajaki dam complex in northern Helmand and securing the ring highway (highway 1) that cuts through Afghanistan’s southern underbelly, stretching from Herat to Kabul.
The BBC has a few earlier pictures from Operation Achilles.

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