Kandahar offensive key to mitigation of terror: US
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 14:53
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 officials.

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.


First Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 14:53

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