Washington: US forces have begun initial
phase of political military operations to flush out Taliban
fighters from in and around Kandahar with the top military
commander saying that it was "a cornerstone in reversing the
momentum" of the insurgence.
US forces hope to take control of the city and its
neighbourhood--- known as the spiritual home of Taliban--- by
late summer, `Washington Post` reported.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, now on a visit to Kandahar termed the city as "the
center of gravity" for US efforts in Afghanistan and compared
the importance of offensive to the 2007 "surge" of the US
troops in Iraq, The Post reported.
The Daily said Kandahar will be the focus of expanding
military operations scheduled to begin in June with the
arrival of 10,000 new US troops.
"The military aspects of the operation began about two
months ago with targeted operations leading to the detention
of about 70 mid- and senior-level Taliban leaders, with a
slightly smaller number killed", the daily reported quoting US
The next stage, an official said, will involve a "body
blow" to areas under Taliban control, with the arrival of two
US combat brigades and Special Forces contingents that will
move quickly to take control of the main highway into the
city, through Zhari, to the west, it said.
"The bulk of US troops will remain outside the city,
while a trained and uncorrupt police force -- yet nonexistent
-- will be installed inside Kandahar city," the Post said.
Mullen said seizure of Kandahar would help to put the
Afghan government in a position of strength to pursue
reconciliation talks with Taliban.
Meanwhile the visiting French President, Nicolas Sarkozy
has supported the Afghan policy of the US President, Barack
Obama, and said defeat is not an option in Afghanistan.
"We cannot afford to lose -- not for us, not for
ourselves, but for Afghanistan and for the people of
Afghanistan, who are entitled to live in freedom," he said.
"Of course the road is arduous. Of course nothing can be
anticipated. Of course we are so sorrowful for the loss of
young lives. But we have to have the courage to go to the end
of our strategy and explain that there is no alternative
strategy," the French President said.
"Defeat would be too high a price for the security of
Americans, the French, and Europeans. By fighting in
Afghanistan, what we are fighting for is world security, quite
simply," he argued.