The Afghan and NATO offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan has “significantly dislocated” the insurgents’ leadership in the area according to force commanders.
Major General Nick Carter, who is in charge of the British contingent said the international force has had to deal with home-made bombs, minefields and some determined opposition from “disparate groupings”.
Improvised Explosive Devices, usually in the form of roadside bombs, present the biggest challenge to the 15,000 strong allied force.
Four NATO or Afghan troops have died since the offensive began including 19-year-old Sean Dawson who is thought to have been killed by so-called friendly fire.
The fall of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah is key to the success of the operation. The Taliban’s top military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader is reported to have been captured in Pakistan but it is not known if he has been involved in the Marjah operation.
The top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal says the goal of the operation is to earn the support of the people.
Local officials are optimistic.
The provincial Governor of Helmand Golab Mangal said: “Once the military operation is over, very soon we will start the development programmes, providing jobs for people, reconstruction. Bringing the rule of law and the eradication of poppies are all included in our programmes.”
The Afghan government has ordered the bulldozing of poppy fields formally controlled by the Taliban in Helmand province in an attempt to eradicate opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin.
NATO: Afghan assault disrupts Taliban leadership