Saturday, April 7, 2007

Operation Achilles Makes Progress In The Forgotten War

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

NATO's largest operation in Afghanistan, Operation Achilles, shows signs of progress in its aim to secure the southern Helmand province of the war-torn country. The past week has seen the operation, led by British ISAF forces, successfully engage militants in gun battle, and take over a Taliban stronghold in the province.

The operation to retake Sangin from militants started late Wednesday and is part of NATO's largest ever offensive in Afghanistan, Operation Achilles, launched last month to flush out Taliban militants from the northern tip of Helmand province and open the way for multimillion-dollar repair work on a dam in Kajaki district which would supply the country's south with electricity.

"There was very heavy fighting between foreign forces, Afghan forces and Taliban in Sangin two nights ago," Sangin resident Haji Akhtar Mohammad said Saturday.

NATO and Afghan troops are in control of the center of Sangin and the Taliban appear to be moving toward the neighboring district of Musa Qala, which is still under the militants' control, Mohammad said.

About 4,500 NATO and 1,000 Afghan forces are in and around Helmand province as part of Operation Achilles. In the last several months, Taliban militants and foreign fighters have streamed into the province, according to U.S. and NATO officials.

There have been over 220 "tactical engagements" since the start of the operation and dozens of militants were killed or captured, according to NATO officials in Kabul.

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