They are pouring into enemy territory in their thousands but can they break the Taliban?US Marines have launched a major offensive in southern Afghanistan, as the Obama administration aims to regain the initiative in the war. Backed by Afghan forces, they hope the surge will prove the tipping point against Taliban fighters. “We have never been able to sqeeze across the entire Helmand River Valley at once and, with the addition of the Marine Brigade and the reposition of taskforce Helmand forces, for my opinion, we have been able to sqeeze the whole River Valley at the same time,” said Colonel Christian Cabaniss of the US Marines. “It is really disrupting their ability to reinforce any area because every area is under pressure at the same time.” The offensive comes amid reports that one US soldier has been kidnapped by Afghan militants and, near Lashkar Gah, it emerged a senior British officer had been killed. Germany’s NATO mission in Afghanistan is increasingly unpopular at home, with three soldiers killed late last month But, despite protests outside, parliament has backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s military commitment to the country. It has approved sending up to 300 more German troops to operate NATO’s AWACS reconnaissance planes when they are deployed in Afghanistan.