Afghan, NATO operation begins to retake Taliban-held villages

June 18th, 2008 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, June 18 (DPA) Afghan and NATO officials said they launched an operation Wednesday to push out Taliban militants who recently took over several villages in southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of Taliban fighters took over the villages in Arghandab district in southern Kandahar province, posing a threat to Kandahar city 20 km south and strategic links from the capital Kabul to the southern and western provinces of the country.

The Afghan-led operation supported by Canadian soldiers began Wednesday morning, Mark Laity, spokesman for NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said.

He said some “minor clashes” took place between the combined forces and insurgents, but no casualties were reported.

General Zahir Azimi, defence ministry spokesman said that their forces moved inside Arghandab district and the operation would continue until the area is cleared of insurgents.

Ahmadi Wali, a unit commander for district police forces said small arms’ fire was traded with militants in the first hours of operation.

He said intelligence reports showed the Taliban fighters were retreating from the villages they recently infiltrated.

Taliban militants earlier claimed that their fighters were ready to face the combined forces.

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