US Marines, Afghan troops continue offensive in Helmand
Kabul: US Marines and Afghan troops, conducting the first offensive since the new American war plan was announced, met little resistance from insurgents on Saturday as they worked to disrupt Taliban supply and communications lines in a key valley in southern Afghanistan.
About 1,000 Marines and 150 Afghan troops are taking part in "Operation Cobra`s Anger" in the Now Zad Valley of Helmand province, the scene of heavy fighting last summer.
Yesterday, helicopters and MV-22 Osprey aircraft dropped hundreds of troops behind Taliban lines in the north end of the valley in the first offensive since President Barack Obama announced a troop buildup. A second, larger Marine force pushed northward from the Marines` main base.
"We`re not taking for granted the low level of contact," Marine spokesman Maj William Pelletier said today. "Just because it`s quiet now doesn`t mean it will be in 24 hours. Part of the operation is to have a disruptive effect on the Taliban resupply activities.
The Marines and Afghan forces are continuing the clearing operation, continuing to move through the valley."
No US casualties have been reported.
The offensive is taking place in an area where the US-led NATO force has been trying for years to break the Taliban`s grip. The barren, wind-swept Now Zad valley is surrounded by steep cliffs with dozens of caves that provide cover to Taliban units.
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